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37S.S1 184 

Kiep Your Card in Tliis Pocket 

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Supervision and Teaching 
of Handwriting : 







Printed and Bound in the 
United States of America 

L. H. J, 


" There are always more people," says Walter 
Lippmann, "interested in finding out who started 
the fire than in helping the firemen. Therefore, the 
saints are noticed on the editorial page, but the 
devil is news. And generally men are more inter- 
ested in fixing the blame than in fixing the trouble," 
This is the reason why complaints about the product 
of our public schools occupy so much more space in 
the press than constructive proposals for their im- 
provement. This book is an attempt to help the 
firemen. Never mind how bad the handwriting of 
children is: advertising the faults won't cure them. 
Here is an attempt to find out what is the current 
practice of successful penmanship teaching and 
supervision and what is the scientific warrant for 
such practice. The author has gone over the prin- 
cipal experimental studies in handwriting and has 
endeavored to organize these results into usable 
procedure for teachers and their supervisors. Sev- 
eral excellent treatises on penmanship, scientific in 
character, are already available; but the author 
hopes that his emphasis upon supervision is suffi- 
cient excuse for the publication of another book. 

The measurement movement in education has a 



tendency to express its findings in highly technical 
language. " Technical words/' writes Hilaire Bel- 
loc, "arise of themselves in any science or art, and 
there is no force, even of a god, that could keep them 
out. But that is only their genesis. Their true 
use is to bamboozle and, my word, how well they 
do it!" We teachers are children of a larger growth 
and we find much of the stuff that comes to us out 
of educational laboratories over our heads* We can 
not use it until some one translates it into our ver- 
nacular* I do not think investigators mean to 
bamboozle, but, nevertheless, like Holmes's "Katy- 
did," they often "say an undisputed thing in such 
a solemn way." In penmanship, for instance, vast 
resources of time and money and human energy 
have been expended to prove what every writing 
teacher knew long ago from personal experience. 
It is something to have this experience confirmed by 
scientific methods and expressed in technical terms; 
but the teacher is properly resentful when he see a 
bit of truth that he always knew strutting about in 
the fine feathers of Professor Peacock. The writer 
recently, in the course of some research work in 
geography, ransacked the catalogue of a great uni- 
versity library, and there fell upon a graduate 
thesis on "the causal series in geography." It pur- 
ported to be an original contribution. On reading 
it, he discovered that it was what he had been in- 


sisting on during all Ms supervisory career. No 
wonder cynics like Belloc cry out, when they see 
familiar vacuities decked out in pretentious tech- 
nical language: " Having mastered the terms, any- 
one whatsoever, though he be color-blind, cross- 
eyed, and quite indifferent to proportion, can write 
the very best art criticism in the world, For 
criticism is good in proportion to the awe which it 
excites. For the function of the critic is to criti- 
cize that is, to pull the leg of the middle class." 

An attempt has been made in this discussion to 
express the conclusions of science in terms which 
the average teacher understands. And this is not 
done in a spirit of mockery. The author is not 
making faces at the real discoverer of truth, who 
must needs speak in the language of his trade; nor 
is he belittling the intelligence of the class teacher 
by insinuating that she cannot comprehend the 
value and outcome of research. He is merely recog- 
nizing the fact that the findings of the laboratory 
are the raw material of method, and that there is 
room for the educational middleman who works up 
such material into usable form. The technician 
stops at formulation, the third Herbartian step. 
But the cycle of method is not complete until the 
fourth step has been taken and the truth has been 
put to work. 

This is primarily a treatise on the supervision of 


handwriting; but supervision involves teaching, 
since every attempt to improve writing must of 
necessity deal with methods of teaching the subject. 
It was the author's original intention to deal with 
supervision only, but he had not gone far in his 
project before he realized that the precepts of the 
supervisor command little respect unless they are 
based upon laws of learning formulated by scientific 
methods. Hence it was necessary to survey the 
physiology and psychology of movement and the 
laws of habit formation. These subjects are there- 
fore treated in the earlier chapters. The formu- 
lated conclusions are printed in a separate chapter 
consisting of fifty propositions. The section on 
method is based on these findings* Then follows 
an exposition of, ^ the educational value of hand- 
writing as an introduction to the discussion of 

The chapters on supervision are founded partly 
upon experimental studies summarized in earlier 
pages and'partly upon the returns from a question- 
naire on supervision of handwriting addressed to 
one hundred thirteen cities containing a population 
of fifty thousand or more. 

The author has been a district superintendent for 
twenty-one years. During this period he has each 
year evaluated the handwriting of all his classes in 
literal terms and embodied these estimates in his 


official reports. But in spite of this effort, progress 
in penmanship has been unsatisfactory. One rea- 
son for this is that it was impossible to compare 
school with school and class with class in a con- 
vincing way with only a subjective standard of 
measurement. Therefore, in the spring of 1922, he 
enlisted the services of our Bureau of Reference, 
Research, and Statistics, to conduct a survey of the 
handwriting in the district by means of a standard- 
ized writing scale. A year later a second survey 
was conducted by the Bureau after an effort on the 
writer's part to bring the unsatisfactory schools 
and classes up to standard. 

"Owe no man anything but to love him," says 
the Apostle. Such a debt is hereby acknowledged 
to the many persons who have -assisted the author 
in making the surveys discussed in this treatise. 
First among these is Mr. Eugene A. Nif enecker, who 
directed the technical aspects of the work. Next 
come Mr. John L. Stenquist, Director of Educa- 
tional Research in Baltimore public schools, and 
Mr. George L. Hentz, District Superintendent of 
Schools, New York, who were assistants of Mr. 
Nif enecker and helped to train the scorers. Of other 
members of Mr, Nifenecker's staff who did the 
statistical work, the undersigned knows the name 
of only one Mrs. Margaret R. Winterble but all of 
them deserve praise and gratitude for the pains they 


took to insure the scientific accuracy of the results. 
It is a pleasure also to acknowledge the fine spirit of 
cooperation shown by principals of schools, and by 
teachers who voluntered to score the papers. Helpful 
criticisms were received from the following friends: 
Dean John W. Withers, of the School of Education, 
New York University; Dr. David B. Corson, Super- 
intendent of Schools, Newark, N. J,; Dr. Lizzie E. 
Rector, District Superintendent, New York; Dr. 
Edward W. Stitt, Associate Superintendent, New 
York; Dr. Francis H. J. Paul, Principal of DeWitt 
Clinton High School, New York. To all and sundry, 





Three Stages of Writing 

1. The receptive or imitative stage ... 19 

2. The formative or character stage . . 19 

3. The confirmed or settled handwriting 

stage 19 

A Complex Problem 20 

The Writing Movement , 20 

1* Factors 

(1) Finger movement 21 

(2) Forward movement 21 

(3) Various combinations of finger 

and arm movements .... 21 

(4) Vertical writers use finger move- 

ment . . , 22 

(5) Pronation 22 

2. Codrdination of movements 23 

3, Diffusion of movements ...... 24 

What Movement is Most Efficacious? ... 26 

1. Degree of pronation ........ 27 

2. Support of the hand 27 

3. Angle of arm with base line 28 

4. Relation of finger and thumb on pen- 

holder - . 28 

5. Looseness of grasp of penholder ... 28 
Whole-Arm Movement 29 




Kind of Movement in the Primary Grades . 29 

1. Movement and age 31 

2. Movement and quality 32 

3. Movement and speed , 32 

Rhythm 33 

1. Rhythm and age 35 

2. Rhythm and quality 35 

3. Rhythm and speed 35 

The Slant of Writing 37 

The Natural Slant 38 


Voluntary Movement 41 

Unconscious Imitation * 43 

Use of a Copy 40 

Sensory Control in Movement , 48 

Handwriting as Habit 49 

1. Simplifies movements 49 

2* Makes for accuracy 49 

3. Reduces fatigue 49 

4* Follows the laws of habit formation , 50 

(1) Launch a strong initiative . . 50 

(2) Suffer no exception 51 

(3) Act on every resolution , . . . 52 

1. Its Elements 

(1) A form of dramatic expression * 53 

(2) Of central origin 58 

(3) Certain elements cannot be dis- 

guised. . . * , 64 

(4) Variability a sign of character. . 54 



2. Graphological Methods 

(1) Analogy 64 

(2) Psychological principles . ... 54 

(3) Empirical observation .... 54 

(4) Intuition 55 

(5) Experimental 55 

(6) Pathological writing 55 

3. The Graphologist and the Scientific 

Significance of size 

(1) Graphological 56 

(2^ Mechanical 57 

(3) Pathological 57 

(4) Experimental ....... 57 

School Intelligence and Handwriting ... 58 


1, From Physiology 60 

2. From Psychology . . , 64 


Materials of Writing 

1. Seat . 67 

2, Desk 67 

3* Pen and ink 67 

4. Paper . 68 

5. Ruling 68 

6. Position 69 

7* Penholding 69 

Other Essential Steps 

1. Steps of the recitation 70 

2. Blackboard writing of the teacher . . 71 

3. Practicing wrong forms . 71 



The Writing of the Youngest Pupils 

1. When to begin 71 

2. Fundamental to accessory 72 

3. Form of the movements 76 

4. When shall we use ink? 76 

Writing in the Higher Grades 

1. Drills . . . . 77 

2. Motivation , . 77 

3* Speed and quality 78 

4. Remedial instruction 79 

5. Sex in writing 79 

6. Time element in writing ...... 80 

7. Left-handed children 81 

8. Group teaching , * 82 

Teaching Illiterates How to Write 

Lesson I. Writing by Tracing 84 

Lesson II* Writing from Copy 86 

Lesson III. Writing from Memory Ap- 
plication. . * * 86 

Departmental Teaching 86 


1. Utilitarian value 89 

2. Conventional value 93 

3. Disciplinary value 93 

4. Subjective or interpretative value ... 96 

5. Ethical value 96 

6. Time value 96 


The Need of Supervision 99 

Is the Technical Supervisor of Handwriting 
Necessary? 106 



An Experiment in the Supervison of Hand- 
writing 108 

The Technical Supervisor Indispensable * . 110 

Significance of the Principal's Attitude . . 115 

The Course of Study 116 

Motivation 119 

Training the Teachers 122 

1. Who gives the lesson? 123 

2. Query 123 

Movement Drills . 124 

Objections (1-6) 126 

State Manuals 127 

1. The New Jersey Manual 127 

2. The Massachusetts Manual 129 

3. The Ohio Manual 129 

tinued) 132 

The Measurement of Handwriting 

1. Unreliability of teachers' marks . . . 132 

2. The pioneer 134 

3. The Ayres Scale . 135 

4. Johnson and Stone Scale 135 

5. Breed and Downs Scale ...... 136 

6. The Freeman Scale .136 

7. The New York Scale . 136 

8. Gray's Score Card 137 

9. Classification of scales according to 1 

use 138 

10. Relative value of scales ....... 140 

11. What is a reasonable standard? . . . 140 

12. The final standard 143 




1. Scope of tests 145 

2. Character of tests 146 

3. General district results 146 

(1) Results in form 146 

(2) Rate of writing 150 

4. Summary of conclusions (110) .... 150 

5. Object of the tests 153 

6. Remedial measures 156 

(1) Objective standard 156 

(2) A definite and attainable goal . - 157 

(3) Devices 159 

7. The second survey 162 

8. Summary of inferences ,..,*..* 168 



INDEX 187 




Three Stages of Writing. Ellsworth (15), * with 
some show of reason, divides the practice of writing 
into the following three stages : 

1. The receptive or imitative stage, wherein the 
learner merely copies or imitates the forms, com- 
binations, and movements set before him. This 
stage is adapted to childhood, when the imitative 
instinct is strongest, the habits are rudimentary, 
and the exercise of all bodily functions is pleasur- 
able; say, from five years of age to ten. 

2. The formative or character stage, wherein the 
learner adapts and assimilates those forms and 
methods which appeal to him and incorporates 
them into habits. This period is between eight 
and fifteen. 

3. The confirmed or settled handwriting stage, when 
the learner expresses his own taste, judgment, tem- 
perament, and individuality. This may extend 
from fifteen to twenty-five or thirty. 

The elementary school deals only with the first 
and second of these stages. That is, at least half 
of the writing time in the common school is taken 

* The figures in. parentheses refer to the bibliography on. page 181, 



up in imitating correct forms and movements in 
an effort to impress the forms permanently upon 
the child's mind and to make the movements auto- 
matic. In the grammar grades the free writing 
gradually increases in quantity and the copy writing 

A Complex Problem. The art of writing, though 
apparently so simple and easy after it has been 
mastered, is in reality a very complex and difficult 
problem, as one may infer from the fact that the 
child devotes eight years of school life to it and 
then frequently passes on with the task only half 
completed. The process may be divided into 
various elements, such as materials, position, move- 
ment, speed, legibility, slant, and rhythm, each of 
which is capable of subdivision into many parts or 
steps. When the writing abilities of the children 
are analyzed, it is found that each child differs from 
every other in the class, and is therefore a specific 
problem for the teacher. Not only do children 
differ in specific abilities, but they differ in their 
manner of reacting to instruction and in their rate 
of developing through practice. For all these rea- 
sons the teaching of writing presents formidable 
difficulties even to the most expert of teachers. To 
the inexpert it remains an insoluble riddle. 

The Writing Movement Doctor Javal (32) was one 
of the first investigators to show what actually hap- 


pens in the arm and hand when one is writing. By 
means of a bracelet attached to the wrist and a ring 
slipped on the little finger, pencils being attached 
to the bracelet and ring, he was able to show the 
movements of the forearm and of the hand during 
the process of writing. 

Acting upon the hint thus furnished by Javal, 
Dr. Charles H. Judd (35) carried the experiment 
much further and analyzed very completely the 
movements of the fingers, hand, forearm, and the 
whole arm during the writing process. Without 
taking time to describe these investigations in de- 
tail, it will be well to consider briefly the conclu- 
sions he reached. 

1. Factors. In order to understand the difficul- 
ties encountered by the child in "learning to write, 
it is profitable to know the factors that are involved 
in the completed writing habit of the adult. Among 
the physiological elements are the following: 

(1) In the ordinary so-called finger movement in 
writing, the hand takes part very slightly in the 
formation of the letters, but participates in the 
forward movement across the page. 

(2) The forward movement performed by the 
hand is itself a compound motion, made partly by 
the hand from its own center at the wrist and partly 
by the arm from the elbow as a center. 

(3) The experiments show that writers fall natu- 


rally into types represented by a preponderance of 
finger or hand movement. In some cases the line 
traced by the movement of the hand across the 
page is almost unbroken, showing that the fingers 
perform nearly all the work. From this extreme 
there are found all grades of approach to the oppo- 
site extreme where the writer has trained himself 
to make no use whatever of the fingers. 

(4) In all the cases investigated, vertical writers 
showed a preponderance of finger movement. 

(5) There is a third movement of the hand which 
is known by physiologists as pronation. It con- 
sists in revolving the hand and arm about the elbow 
as a pivot. This is done in order to maintain the 
uniformity of slant in the writing when the elbow is 
in a fixed position. 

Dr. Judd explains the necessity, effect, and 
habit of pronation at great length. To test the mat- 
ter for myself I asked a specialist in penmanship 
recently to write some lines in my presence* I 
discovered that this gentleman had entirely elimi- 
nated from his habit the element of pronation. On 
being questioned in regard to the matter, he ex- 
plained that he frequently required his pupils to 
write with a penny on the back of the hand to 
facilitate the inhibition of the movement here 
called pro&atiojcu On further investigation it was 
found that this gentleman ^presents the type of 


writers that make very little use of finger move- 
ments. They maintain the uniformity of slant 
by moving the entire arm forward, instead of 
revolving the forearm about the elbow as a pivot 

2. Coordination of movements. The pregnant fact 
revealed by this investigation is not that writing 
involves different kinds of movements, but that 
many different kinds of movements are performed 
simultaneously. In physiology such compound 
movements are called coordination. 

There are two kinds of coordinated movements, 
voluntary and involuntary. Many involuntary 
coordinations are complete when the child is born. 
Such are the movements involved in breathing and 
swallowing. These are controlled by nerve centers 
which work automatically. The seat of voluntary 
coordination, on the other hand, is in the brain. 
Muscles cannot move themselves. Each one is 
connected with a nerve which carries an impulse 
from the brain. When a voluntary movement is 
to be made, the Ego issues the fiat from the execu- 
tive department of the brain, which we call the 
motor area, and then messages are sent to the 
muscles to contract or relax. A coordinated move- 
ment requires many different kinds of muscles to 
act in harmony. Each one must therefore, receive* 
an impulse of a certain kind and strength at exaetly 
the right moment, if the combined results of all the 


contractions and relaxations are to constitute a 
perfectly balanced and successful movement. What 
a tedious and complicated process it is to organize 
such coordinations may be inferred from the awk- 
ward efforts of an infant when he tries for the first 
time to grasp an orange or to walk. 

Applying these facts to writing, we see at once 
where the difficulty is. Writing is a very complex 
coordination of muscles of the voluntary kind. 
The fingers have to move to shape the letters. 
The hand moves in sympathy with the fingers more 
or less. At the same time it describes an arc from 
the wrist as a center, and another arc from the elbow 
as a center, Finally it performs a rotary motion 
with the elbow as a pivot. A characteristic of 
children's writing, as Judd remarks (35:223), is 
that these "additional arm movements are made 
by the child, not as well coSrdinated additions to 
finger movements, but rather as separate and 
clumsy interruptions of the finger movement." 

3. Diffusion of movements. Another important 
fact in the physiology of writing is what is known 
as the diffusion of movements* A child's brain is 
provided with elements which make it possible to 
perform millions of different kinds of movement* At 
birth a child's brain is a mass of potentialities, He 
begins at once to make random movements of 
many kinds, but no coSrdinated movements except 


such as are involuntary. When, after many trials, 
he succeeds in getting a group of muscles to act in 
harmony for the achievement of a definite purpose, 
as, for example, grasping an object offered to him, 
we say he has organized that movement. In his 
effort to organize a movement, he has to make 
many trials before he energizes just the right mus- 
cles to the proper degree. His efforts may be 
compared to those of a poor marksman in trying to 
hit the center of a target placed against a barn 
door. At the end of the trial it will be found that 
the bullets are scattered all over the side of the 
barn, and very few have hit the target at all. The 
shooting is of the diffuse kind. Perhaps as safe a 
position as any for the spectator is in front of the 

So when a child is organizing a movement, "the 
regular lines of connection necessary for coordina- 
tion have not yet been laid down. An impulse is 
free to wander about and shoot out at this point 
or at the other in a very irregular and uncoordinated 
fashion" (35:221). In learning to write the pupil 
energizes a great many muscles not needed in the 
process. tc While the finger writing goes on, the 
hand and arm are all the time, through the diffusion 
of the stimulation, kept tense and ready to move. 
Not only the writing arm is diffusely contracted, 
but the other arm also is having its part in the 


agony of effort.' 7 The pen is clutched as if it 
weighed twenty pounds, the face is contracted, the 
head is drawn down until the nose almost touches 
the pen point. These are all perfectly natural 
consequences of the diffusion of movements* "Na- 
ture attacks her problems of development by 
producing more than she needs and then picking 
out the best. Development means the selection of 
the right movements out of a total mass of diffuse 

What Movement is Most Efficacious? Mr. Frank N. 
Freeman (23:253; 21) conducted a very important 
series of experiments to determine what kind or 
combination of movements is most efficacious. He 
notes a widespread dogma "that arm movement, or 
so-called muscular movement, is a superior method 
of writing, and that writing should be taught by 
emphasizing this arm movement by giving exer- 
cises which develop it, and fixing the child's atten- 
tion upon it. ... Scientific evidence refutes it 
almost completely." 


Mr, Freeman set himself the task of examining 
the .current assumptions as to the necessity and 
prevalence of arm movement in good writing. The 
subjects chosen included fifty children and adults. 
The children were from the Chicago University 


Elementary School and the Ray School of the public 
school system. The University children had not 
received specialized training in handwriting, while 
the Ray children had been drilled regularly in an 
arm movement system of writing. From these two 
schools children were selected who represented the 
extremes of good and poor writing. The adults 
were also selected so as to represent good and poor 
writers. Among the good writers were several pro- 
fessional penmen, including Mr. C. P. Zaner, the 
expert and author of a writing system. 

The method employed undertook to determine 
what the essentials of good writing are by com- 
paring the behavior of good writers and poor 
writers. Mr. Freeman mounted a kinetoscopie 
camera over the hand of the writer which could be 
speeded up to twenty-five exposures per second. 
This gave a separate photograph of the hand every 
twenty-fifth of a second, He first investigated a 
group of details usually assumed to be essential in 
writing, with the following findings: 

1. Degree of pronation. He found very little 
correspondence between this item and the quality 
of the writing. Hence the old writing masters who 
compelled their pupils to write with a penny on 
the back of the hand were inflicting a needless 

2. Support of the hand. More good writers than 


poor writers support the hand on the third and 
fourth fingers. 

3. Angle of arm with base line. Good writers hold 
the arm perpendicular to the line of writing more 
frequently than poor writers. 

4. Relation of finger and thumb on penholder. The 
good writers usually grasp the pen in such a way 
that the forefinger is below the thumb. Many poor 
writers hold the finger opposite the thumb or above it. 

5. Looseness of grasp of penholder. Good writers 
grasp the penholder more loosely than poor writers. 
This, of course, can be readily explained by the law 
of diffusion of effort. 

Another object of Mr. Freeman's experiment was 
to analyze the composition of the writing move- 
ment. His conclusions on this point are, briefly: 

(1) There is no evidence that good writers use 
more arm movement than poor writers. 

(2) Good writers generally move more easily 
along the line than poor ones. 

(3) An important discovery is the matter of 
speed changes. "The good writer divides the writ- 
ing movement into a series of units, corresponding 
to the natural units of form of letters, more radically 
than does the poor writer." 

(4) In good writing the letters are formed by & 
combined movement of the fingers and arm in 
which either element may predominate. 


Whole-Arm Movement. From a report of a pen- 
manship convention (52) we learn that there are 
two alleged reasons why penmanship is not satis- 
factory in California. One reason, so Mr. A. N. 
Palmer stated at the Convention, is "that the rank 
and file of grade teachers have not been trained in 
the mechanics and pedagogy of the subject. The 
other reason is ... that, because of the peculiar 
whole-arm penmanship that is largely taught in 
primary grades in California, pupils acquire incor- 
rect habits and incorrect ideas ... in regard 
to the motive power which should be used in con- 
nection with handwriting. The habits acquired in 
primary grades must be eradicated and new habits 
acquired before even a start can be made toward 
the development of a style of writing embodying 

legibility, rapidity, ease, and endurance It 

should be axiomatic that nothing should be taught 
in any grade that cannot be carried advantageously 
into the penmanship of another grade. 7 ' 

Kind of Movement in the Primary Grades. This 
opens up a serious disagreement, even among scien- 
tists, as to what kind of writing movement should 
be taught in the primary grades. District Super- 
intendent Lizzie E. Rector, who as principal first 
successfully introduced the "muscular movement" 
writing into a New York school, is of the opinion 
that "early emphasis should be placed upon posi- 


tion and movement. If correct position and free 
movement are to be expected of the higher grades, 
they must be demanded of pupils as soon as the 
subject is begun. 77 She is of the further opinion 
that we cannot successfully stress both form and 
movement in the early grades; therefore we should 
emphasize movement. 

The New York course of study reverses this sug- 
gested procedure and stresses form in the first two 
grades, no movement drills being prescribed before 
the second half of the second year. 

The question raised here is discussed in the St. 
Louis Survey by Professor Freeman (24)* He is 
comparing the results of Grand Rapids and St. 
Louis. In form both cities are below standard in 
the lower grades. In speed both are above the 
general average in most grades. Two kinds of prac- 
tice are encountered, the writer says. In the one 
case the children are encouraged to write with a 
fairly high degree of speed, and a relatively low 
standard of form is tolerated. In the other case 
their attention is directed more largely to form, 
and the speed is not so great, "It is argued in 
support* of the one type of practice that the essen- 
tial for the beginner in writing is to attain fluency 
and the correct type of movement, and that the 
form will develop after the proper movement habit 
has been formed. * The contention in support of 


the opposite practice is that the prime requisite at 
the beginning is to develop the proper idea of the 
form of letters and care in making them, and after 
this is done speed will naturally develop," Mr. 
Freeman leans to the opinion that the St. Louis and 
New York plan of stressing form in the beginning 
rather than speed and movement is desirable. 

This opinion is based upon the findings of Mr. 
Nutt, which Mr. Freeman reviews and quotes in 
his own monograph (21). Nutt's investigation was 
undertaken primarily to investigate rhythm, but 
incidental discoveries concerning movement are 
also recorded, which may be briefly summarized 

1. Movement and age. Mr. Nutt does not distin- 
guish between forearm and whole-arm movement; 
but the tracer which measured the arm move- 
ment was clamped to the hand. It is probable 
that what was thus measured was forearm move- 
ment. His table shows almost no arm movement 
for ages seven and eight and no high degree of it 
for any age up to fourteen. Mr. Freeman com- 
ments: "These facts do not give any encourage- 
ment to the view that the large majority of children 
can be trained in exclusive arm movement writing. 
They indicate, further, that if we do stress arm 
movement we should do so from the ages of nine 
or ten." 


2. Movement and quality. The quality was meas- 
ured by both the Freeman and the Ayres scales* 
Comparison of arm movement with quality shows 
that "pupils who make high grades in quality do 
not use a large amount of arm movement more 
commonly than the poor writers." 

3. Movement and speed. Considerable correla- 
tion was found between arm movement and speed, 
though the relation is not " nearly so close as is 
commonly maintained by the advocates of this 
method." All the very slow writers use finger 
movement. On the other hand, many finger- 
movement writers write with as great a speed as 
any arm-movement writer. 

In this connection we may refer to the innova- 
tions of Mr. Harry Houston, of New Haven, and 
Mr. E. C. Mills, of Rochester, both of whom have 
discarded the oval and push-pull drill exercises* 

Arm movement is secured by writing the letters 
an inch or more in height, and then gradually 
grading the writing down to normal size. It is 
evident that by this procedure form and movement 
are stressed at the same time and in equal degree* 
A controlled experiment to test the efficacy of the 
method of these supervisors should be undertaken 
at once by some competent investigator, 

The movement introduced for practice by these 
two men is always a definite movement made in 


imitation of a letter pattern. It is copy writing 
just as much as the old copy-book exercises. It 
differs from ordinary writing chiefly in that it 
employs the muscles of the forearm rather than 
those of the fingers and wrist. It requires quite as 
much concentration of effort as finger writing. 
When we speak of freedom of movement we mean 
merely that the writing is done by the muscles of 
the forearm rather than those of the fingers. The 
object of movement exercises is to develop the 
same accuracy for the larger muscles of the arm 
that we possess in the smaller ones of the hand. 
The form or model is just as important in the one 
case as in the other. The object in each case is to 
impress the model accurately and deeply upon the 
memory; the drill of writing it many times serves 
merely to add muscular memory to visual memory. 
And if we practice the copy long and faithfully the 
muscular memory will become so perfect that the 
writing becomes automatic. Drill without careful 
reference to correct form is just like committing to 
memory wrong forms in language, or false state- 
ments in history, geography, and science. The 
vulgar slang picked up by children on the street is 
analogous to the hideous scrawl of those who have 
been drilled in movement exercises without refer- 
ence to form. 
Rhythm. Rhythm in handwriting as defined by 


Freeman is "the relative duration of the successive 
strokes or units of movement." In order to em- 
phasize rhythm in movement teachers are accus- 
tomed to count while children write, or to use words 
which describe the direction of the movement; as, 
for example, in drills in capital M, the words might 
be u higher stroke over down over down over down 

The most important investigation of rhythm 
published to date is that of Mr. H. W. Nutt (49). 
By means of an apparatus especially designed for 
the experiment, an extended tracing of the writing 
is taken on a moving strip of paper by means of a 
typewriter ribbon which travels between this 
moving strip and a sheet upon which the writing is 
done* The speed of the moving strip is measured 
by means of an electric vibrator which traces a 
broken line on it* Thus the original writing can be 
compared with the tracing, and by this means the 
location of the pen point at successive intervals on 
the original writing is indicated, as in the case of a 
moving-picture record. Mr* Nutt secured records 
in word writing only. At the same time the relar 
tive amount of hand and finger movement was 
measured by means of a hand tracer* 

Mr. Nutt's object was to secure facts concerning 
the correlation of rhythm with other factors of 
handwriting. Records were obtained of 273 chil~ 


dren living in five cities: Kansas City, Topeka, 
Winfield (Kansas), Mattoon (111.), and Grand 
Rapids. They were chosen to represent equal 
numbers of the ages from seven to fourteen. Fol- 
lowing are the conclusions in brief : 

1. Rhythm and age. It is shown that rhythmic 
movement increases naturally with age. 

2. Rhythm and quality. No evidence of cor- 
relation between rhythm and the quality of the 
writing appears in Mr* Nutt's tables. Professor 
Freeman says " there may be, however, certain 
advantages in rhythmical writing, and these may 
be offset by disadvantages. . . . This matter 
recalls the other characteristic of mature writing 
which has already been mentioned" continuous- 
ness of the movement "which, when it is devel- 
oped ahead of the writer's control, is unfavorable 
in its effect on the form." In other words, just 
as speed may be developed at the expense of form 
as was the case in my own district so rhythmic 
movement associated with speed does not neces- 
sarily produce good form, 

3. Rhythm and speed. Nutt found that rhythm 
shows a decided correlation with speed, "and it 
resembles speed in that an extreme degree of it is 
probably unfavorable to form." 

Mr. West (71) has also made an interesting contri- 
bution to our knowledge of rhythm in handwriting* 


He opens Ms discussion by calling attention to the 
fact that Freeman and Nutt, in their investigations, 
have shown that rhythm in writing " increases with 
age and is assisted by increase of speed/' but that "it 
is not correlated with good f orm, in fact has a tendency 
to interfere with quality in certain cases." These in- 
vestigators, he says, have arbitrarily defined rhythm 
"as a simple uniformity in duration of strokes. " 

The experiments of West were undertaken "to 
gain specific information regarding rhythm as 
related to the penmanship of good and poor writers 
of both adult and child groups. n The first type of 
experiment undertook to measure "the amount of 
time spent on the stroke, and the rest at the ter- 
minus of the stroke." The second experiment em- 
ployed a photographic method "by means of which 
the actual writing process was analyzed in terms of 
distance covered during each fiftieth of a second.' * 

The results seem to show that; 

(1) The better adult writers maintain a slightly 
superior record of regularity. 

(2) The arm is more easily adapted to natural 
rhythmic movement than the fingers. 

(3) Poor adult writers are less accurate when a 
rhythmic beat is imposed than good ones. 

(4) The use of a rhythmic guide in penmanship 
instruction must be carefully supervised and scien* 
tifieally directed. 


(5) Rhythm is not thoroughly adaptable to the 
process of writing words, but may be used in simple 
movement drills. 

The Slant of Writing. Some twenty-five years ago 
the writer studied school hygiene at Clark Univer- 
sity under Professor Burnham. At that time Ger- 
many was the leader in scientific investigations and 
treatises on this subject. The prevalence of myopia 
and curvature of the spine among school children 
led to many studies in Europe which revealed the 
fact that the malposition of children during the writ- 
ing period corresponded with permanent defects 
of eyes and spine. 

It was ascertained by one commission that 
twenty per cent of boys and forty per cent of girls 
had one shoulder higher than the other; while 
ninety per cent of spinal curvature was found to 
be developed during school life. Similar facts were 
discovered concerning myopia. Spinal defects were 
traced to the collapsed position in writing, which, 
in addition to these injuries, inflicts others that 
affect the general health by retarding the circula- 
tion, improperly filling the lungs with air, etc. 
The characteristics of myopia correspond closely 
with the asymmetrical position of the eyes in 
writing. These disclosures were then employed to 
prove that vertical script was the only hygienic 
writing possible. Many other assumed virtues 


were ascribed to it. Some claimed that it was the 
natural style, others that it was more beautiful or 
more rapid, or that it occupied twenty per cent less 
space than slant writing. Questionnaires were 
issued and on the basis of the returns the claim was 
made that business men preferred vertical to slant. 
The argument ended with the slogan: The body 
straight, the paper straight, the writing straight! 

In New York the slant of the writing had never 
been officially prescribed. The supply list always 
contained copy books representing all styles and 
theories, and principals were free to select from the 
list whatever st^le they preferred. This liberty 
was a serious detriment to the writing of the chil- 
dren. A child was likely to encounter a new style 
of writing every time he was transferred from one 
school to another. Teachers were complaining 
everywhere that they found great difficulty in 
teaching penmanship. The average class could 
show every possible slant from backhand to the 
Spencerian slant. Sometimes a pupil would illus- 
trate all these slants in a single line of writing* 
Lack of uniformity in the slant makes writing il- 
legible and ugly. Hence, our crying need was a 
uniform style for the entire city, which, however, 
was not required until twenty years later. 

The Natural Slant. In the period referred to 
above very little scientific work had been done on 


the writing movement. Science had concerned 
itself up to that time chiefly with the hygienic point 
of view. The writing masters, the public, and the 
school authorities expended much energy in a vio- 
lent debate on the relative merits of vertical and 
slant. In this controversy the stock arguments on 
both sides were little more than personal or group 
opinion. Smith preferred vertical writing because 
he liked it. Jones voted for slant for the same 
reason. It reminded one of Lincoln's saying: "For 
people who like that kind of thing, that is just the 
kind of thing they will like." 

In 1900 Mr. Cloyd N. McAllister (42) made a 
study of "the best slope for writing," His conclu- 
sions may be summarized thus: 

1. A slant of 48 permits the most rapid writing. 

2. The hand acquires a slope that is farther re- 
moved from the vertical than the model used as a 
copy, a child usually deviating 10. 

3. The greater the slant to the right the more 
rapid will be the writing. 

4. A slant of about 75 permits legible writing, 
but as the angle decreases below 70 the legibility 
decreases rapidly. 

5. A base line is desirable to guide the eye in 
writing across the page. Other lines cause the 
child to give more attention to spacing and height 
(ban to form and movement. 


6. As to size, each pupil should be permitted to 
use that which is natural to him. 

7. Children, in first learning to write, use the finger 
and wrist movements, which produce small writing. 

8. The full-arm movement, with elbow resting 
on the desk, is much more rapid than finger or 
wrist movement. 

9. The finger and wrist movements permit round 
forms of letters, which are more legible, but require 
sixteen per cent more time than full-arm movement 
with rest. 

10. Neither kind of movement should be used 

11. For small children much attention should be 
given to arm movement. For this training the 
brush may be used to prevent the firm grip and pro- 
mote free movement. 

12. Backhand writing is slow and difficult. 
These results suffice to show that vertical script 

is not natural for a child, nor is it the most rapid. 
Consequently, when children left school and were 
compelled to write rapidly, they Were unable to keep 
on writing vertically. They were therefore com-* 
pelled to form a new set of coordinations and to 
break up the old habits. The result was disastrous 
and was responsible for the atrocious handwriting 
which finally led to the adoption of the present 
system of so-called " muscular movement" writing* 



Writing is a psychophysical process. It is there- 
fore difficult to make a clear distinction between 
the physiological and the psychological factors, 
since any act of writing involves both. For the 
sake of clearness in exposition we may, however, 
make the logical division here employed. We 
know that there can be no psychosis without the 
corresponding neurosis, although there may be 
physiological acts that do not involve mind, as, for 
instance, when a headless frog swims or responds to 
a stimulus. The mental and the physical elements 
are like the obverse sides of a coin. To know the 
coin both sides must be examined and for conveni- 
ence we may study one side at a time. 

From the point of view of subject matter hand- 
writing is one of the manual arts and is primarily 
a form of motor training. The psychology of 
writing is therefore the psychology of voluntary 
movement and habit. 

Voluntary Movement* Voluntary movement grows 
out of the various forms of involuntary move- 
ment, which have been classified as impulsive, re- 
flex, and imitative. Countless movements of these 



sorts leave their records in memory and when, 
finally, the nervous mechanism of voluntary muscu- 
lar control is sufficiently matured, the child has the 
images of how it feels to make certain definite 
coordinations, and these guide the will in issuing 
the necessary fiat for the imitation of the move- 
ments desired, 

" Writing, which is essentially a coordinated 
movement, has to be developed through trial after 
trial, with consciousness directed, not upon the 
movement itself, but on the visual images which 
appear as results of the movement. What one is 
thinking of is not the movement at all, but visual 
images" (35). This process involves memory and 
imagination and judgment. In writing from a 
copy the pupil glances at the model, gets a visual 
image of the form he wishes to make, then makes a 
coordinated movement which he thinks will pro- 
duce the form desired. While he is watching the 
product of his pen, he compares the form he makes 
with the image of the model which he carries in 
his memory. If he writes slowly, he may glance at 
the model and at the pen point alternately several 
times while he is writing a single letter* If the 
space between the line he is writing and the model 
is great, the memory of the form is proportionately 
imperfect and the product of the writing defective. 
To facilitate the process of imitation, therefore, 


the model should be as close to the line of writing 
as possible. To " learn" to write a letter means to 
fix the image of its appearance permanently in the 
memory, and to associate this image by many acts 
of repetition with the muscular image of writing 
it. When all the letters are thus associated 
thoroughly in the various combinations which 
occur in written discourse, entire syllables 
and words will become " organized " as unitary 
coordinations. When this is accomplished, a mini- 
mum of attention is sufficient to discharge the series 
of motor impulses which result in a written word. 
Writing has now become automatic, and hence- 
forth the mind can attend to what is written and the 
nerve centers will attend to how the writing is 

Unconscious Imitation. Professor Daniel Starch 
(62) reports an interesting experiment on 
"Unconscious Imitation in Handwriting 7 ' which 
has a significant bearing on the teaching of pen- 
manship. The problem is formulated in the fol- 
lowing terms: 

To what extent, if at all, is a person's normal handwriting 
modified by a model of script seen during the process of writing? 
Will a person who habitually writes a slanting script uncon- 
sciously make his letters more vertical when he writes from a 
vertical copy? And will a person who ordinarily writes a 
vertical hand unconsciously make the letters more slanting 
when he writes from a slanting copy? 


The experimenter gave to each of 106 students of 
psychology in the University of Wisconsin a set of 
five leaves, as follows: 

L Directions to the student 

2. A short paragraph of typewritten material 

3. A paragraph of vertical script 

4. A paragraph of slanting script 

5. A paragraph of unusually large script 

Not a word was said about imitation. Ostensibly 
the experiment was for the purpose of securing a 
specimen of handwriting. After the writing was 
finished only two said they had tried to imitate 
the writing of the copy. Their records were ex- 
cluded. The majority had no opinion as to the pur- 
pose of the experiment, 


The object of the typewritten model was to secure 
the normal handwriting of each subject for com- 
parison. Slant was measured first, with these aver- 
age results for the group as a whole: 

1. Change from normal to vertical. . . , . 3.7 

2. Change from normal to slant ,....,.*.,, ,3 . 8 

3. Totalrange of change 7,3 

The class was then divided into three groups: 
Vertical writers, extremely slanting, and a slant be- 


tween the other two. The average results of ver- 
tical writers were as follows : 

1. Average inclination of normal 85.2 

2. Average inclination of copy from vertical 87 . 1 

3. Average inclination of copy from slant 79 . 2 

Vertical writers were influenced more by slant 
than by vertical. The extremely slanting writers 
showed these results : 

1. Average inclination of normal writing 50.4 

2. Average inclination of copy from vertical 53 . 8 

3. Average inclination of copy from slant 48 . 1 

Slanting writers were influenced more by vertical 
than by slant. The moderately slanting writers 
had these averages : 

1. Inclination of normal 62. 6 

2. Inclination of copy from vertical 67.4 

3* Inclination of copy from slant 60.0 

These were influenced more by vertical than by 

There was also a sex difference which is interest- 
ing and significant. There were in the class 28 men 
and 75 women. The comparison of their results is 
shown in this table: 

Men Women 

1. Average change from normal to- 

ward vertical 4 3.8 

2. Average change from normal to- 

ward slant 2 3.7 

3. Entire range of change 6 7.5 


The influence of the two models upon women was 
25 per cent greater than that upon men. 

The size of the model had also an unconscious 
influence upon these writers, as shown in the fol- 
lowing table : 

Average width of letters in normal writing.. .4.33 mm. 
Average width of letters in copy from large 
model 4 . 85 mm. 

The average width of letters in the large model 
was 6 mm. The large model had the effect of in- 
creasing the size of normal writing by 12 per cent. 

Use of a Copy. This interesting experiment of Pro- 
fessor Starch explains certain well-known facts 
about the use of a copy. It explains, in the first 
place, why children make little progress in penman- 
ship under a teacher whose handwriting is poor. 
It emphasizes the absolute necessity of requiring 
teachers to qualify as experts in the kind of hand- 
writing they are expected to teach. Yet it is only 
within a few years that training schools for teachers 
made any provision for equipping their students 
with this necessary skill. And of the teachers now 
in the service, how many are expert writers? Per- 
haps not more than fifty per cent. Need we wonder 
why penmanship teaching is unsatisfactory? 

The experiment in unconscious imitation explains 
abo why, in writing a copy, each successive line is 
less and lesB like the original copy. We used to have 


copy books with ten or a dozen lines, and only one 
copy at the top of the page. When the pupil had 
finished a page, one could see a regular gradation 
downward, the last line being little better than a 
scrawl. The pupil had unconsciously imitated his 
own writing instead of the copy on the top line. 

The copy books now in use are an improvement 
upon the old style. They have fewer blank lines, 
and frequently the copy is on a slip which is moved 
down on a sheet of paper as the writing progresses. 
Thus the imperfect copy of the pupil is covered, and 
only the standard copy is in view. 

In my own district no paper copy is used at all. 
The lesson is written on the blackboard in the pres- 
ence of the children. They thus obtain a visual 
image of the movements involved. If they are 
drilled in "air writing/ 5 they add to the visual 
image a muscular image. We have therefore de- 
veloped kinaesthetic ideas of movement and visual 
memories of form and movement before the child 
touches paper with pen, 

Miss Mary E. Thompson (66) thinks the copy 
book may profitably be used as a corrective of form, 
"as the dictionary is the standard consulted when 
one is in doubt about the spelling of words." But 
she says the best form of practice is the life form, 
or the expressing of one's own thoughts in writing 
while thinking. Most writing masters will agree 


that the application of writing in correlation with 
other subjects is the real test of the success of the 
writing teacher; but if Miss Thompson means that 
a pupil may become expert in penmanship merely 
by doing written exercises in the content subjects 
and without formal drills as such in handwriting, 
I for one disagree. This is the old doctrine of " inci- 
dental learning" which the famous Committee of 
Ten invented years ago. We have not yet recov- 
ered from the blighting influence of that pernicious 

Sensory Control in Movement. We have already 
called attention to the fact that writing is volun- 
tary movement, but that when we write, what we 
think of is not movement at all, but visual images. 
"If we introspect an act of writing we shall find 
that we never look at the movements of our fingers, 
but at the letters just written; and yet, if we watch 
some one else write, we will find that the eyes move 
but little and do not follow the form of each letter, 
but seem to keep track in general of where he is, to 
preserve the alignment and spacing, to keep an 
equality in the letters, and to avoid losing his way 
when in the midst of a word and so misspell it." 
Hence we conclude, says Woodworth, "that inform- 
ing the letters we come to depend mostly on the 
muscular and tactile sensibility. ... In short, it 
may be said that the general and coordinating con- 


trol necessary in making one line equal to another 
is left entirely to the eye when that is used" (66). 
Handwriting as Habit. When we consider the phys- 
iological aspect of writing, we call it ''organizing 
a movement." When we think of the mental side, 
we call it habit formation. Concerning the value 
of habit as a basis of practical teaching, modern 
psychologists have given us many useful hints. 
Habit, as Mr. Bryan (7) reminds us, does the fol- 
lowing things: 

1. Simplifies movements by eliminating useless 
motions. Diffusion of effort involves a great loss 
of energy and results in unsuccessful movements. 
When a child first learns to write, he energizes a 
great many muscles not needed in the process. 
After writing has been made automatic, only the 
necessary muscles are used, 

2. Makes for accuracy. While the child is self- 
consciously trying to get a group of muscles to act 
in harmony the resulting movement is always crude 
and inaccurate. This is one of the reasons why the 
early attempts at writing are so unsuccessf ul. Even 
if the pupil correctly sees the form he is trying to 
imitate, he is unable to make his muscles execute 
his intention. Only by long practice is he able to 
reduce the process to habit and to achieve complete 

3. Reduces fatigue. Diffuseness in movement is 


tiresome because of the needless expenditure of 
energy. The young writer grips his penholder and 
holds many of the larger muscles of the body taut 
that are not concerned in the movement at all. 
Hence he soon tires. Habit corrects this overuse 
of energy and thus reduces fatigue. Conscious con- 
trol of muscles requires attention. Habit hands the 
movement over to the lower centers and takes it out 
of consciousness. Walking is a very serious busi- 
ness to a child who is just learning how to do it. 
To the adult it is so nearly automatic that he can 
dodge automobiles and carry on a conversation at 
the same time. 

4. Follows the laws of habit formation. Since 
writing is mentally a process of habit formation, 
it is important to keep in mind the laws of that very 
important function. William James enumerates 
three of these laws. As quoted from. Professor 
Bain, they apply to moral habits only; but actually 
they apply to the formation of any habit, hand- 
writing included. 

(1) The first law of habit is: We must launch our- 
selves with as strong and decided an initiative as pos- 
sible. "Accumulate all the possible circumstances 
which shall reinforce the right motives. ... In 
short, envelop your resolution with every aid you 
know." This opens up the question of motivating 


writing drills. Innumerable devices have been em- 
ployed for this purpose, e. g. : 

(a) Plot the individual scores of children and let 
them follow their own progress. 

(b) Charters suggests a "writing hospital' 7 to 
which pupils are sent until they are convales- 
cent (10). 

(c) Stone (63) has a plan which puts all pupils 
of the school into four groups for the writing lesson. 
The groups are the average, above the average, be- 
low the average, and the exempt. 

(d) Have the pupil understand that the real test 
oJ his writing is his spelling, composition, arithme- 
tic, and other written exercises of the day. The 
formal writing lesson is for the purpose of learning 
how to do his applied writing successfully. 

(e) In the primary grades all sorts of simple de- 
vices may be used, such as honor lists, a blue ribbon 
or string tied to the penholder, unfailing praise for 
successful achievement. 

(2) The second law of habit is: Never suffer an 
exception to occur till the new hdbit^is securely rooted 
in your life. "Each lapse is like the letting fall of 
a ball of string which one is carefully winding up; 
a single slip undoes more than a great many turns 
will wind again." This law is violated when we 
permit a pupil to practice a wrong form or move- 
ment, or when he unconsciously imitates the bad 


writing of a teacher. " Habit is habit," says Mark 
Twain, "and not to be flung out of the window by 
any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time. 7 ' 
Mr. Joseph T. Griffin, one of my principals, writes : 

Children write on an average three hours a day, which is 
fifteen hours, or 900 minutes, a week. They have a penmanship 
lesson formally prescribed for 80 minutes a week. In this formal 
exercise they write carefully, anxiously, elaborately. During the 
other 820 minutes when they are writing, their minds are not 
on the penmanship, but on the arithmetic, the grammar, the 
history, or geography which is the subject of the lesson. They 
write freely, hastily, and usually execrably. The habit forma- 
tion is taking place there and no painstaking formal exercise in 
penmanship can offset the harm of scribbling during the other 

Every written exercise should be a lesson in 

(3) The third maxim is : Seize the very first pos- 
sible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, 
and on every emotional prompting you may expe- 
rience in the direction o/ the habit you aspire to gain. 
"With mere good intentions, hell is proverbially 
paved. . . . There is no more contemptible type 
of human character than that of the nerveless senti- 
mentalist and dreamer, who spends his life in a 
weltering sea of sensibility and emotion, but who 
never does a manly, concrete deed/ 7 In short, here 
we invoke the law of effort. If we fail in the case 
of, some pupils to motivate writing drills according 


to the first law, the drills must nevertheless be 
done. When the law of interest fails to achieve our 
purpose, then we apply force. Children will have 
to learn that we live in a world where we can not 
always do only what we like. Many hard and dis- 
agreeable things must be done by people who would 
rather be doing something else. The dead must be 
buried, sewers must be cleaned, dishes must be 
washed three times a day. It is just as well to let 
children know from the start that some parts of 
school work are not very interesting, but that they 
must nevertheless be done. Among these are pen- 
manship drills, the multiplication table, dates in 
history, spelling, and the like. 


1. Its Elements. Graphology is the science of 
estimating character or of determining personality 
by studying handwriting. The basic elements of 
this science are: 

(1) That handwriting is a form of dramatic ex- 
pression like gesture, bodily posture, and facial 

(2) That handwriting individuality is of central 
origin that handschrift is hernschrift The great 
individual variation in the time at which hand- 
writing sets or matures with the consequent fixation 
of style is one of the most interesting aspects. 


(3) That control of handwriting in such elements 
as relative proportion between one and two or 
three space letters, continuity of writing, manner- 
isms in dotting the i } etc., remains constant and 
cannot be disguised. 

(4) That variability within certain limits is a 
sign of character. It is impossible for a man to 
make two signatures exactly alike. One of the 
proofs of forgery by tracing consists in the exact 
reproduction of a signature. 

2. Graphological Methods. The methods by which 
graphology arrives at its conclusions are briefly 

(1) The method of analogy , as when it is inferred 
that a connected handwriting indicates continuity 
of thought, while frequent breaks in writing imply 
intermittent flashes of inspiration, or when small 
writing is assumed as evidence of a love of minutiae. 

(2) An appeal to psychological principles, e. g., 
the law that every mental state tends to issue in 
some form of expression, or the law that force and 
energy of movement (like size and pressure of 
writing) are a direct outcome of mental energy. 

(3) Empirical observation, as when we compare 
the writing of a group of intellectually superior 
persons with that of the intellectually inferior; or 
the writings of criminals with those of moral re- 
formers. Binet found that age could be deter- 


mined in this way within an average of ten years, 
and sex in from 63 to 90 per cent of cases. 

(4) The method of intuition abandons the analytic 
for the synthetic method. In this case the writing 
is judged on general impression. Some people have 
great ability in this line quite apart from any train- 
ing. A test conducted by Osborn revealed a wide 
range of variation; namely, from 100 per cent of 
accuracy to 65 per cent (50). 

(5) Experimental graphology is an attempt to 
apply the scientific method to the subject. It 
differs from experimental psychology of hand- 
writing principally in the fact that graphology deals 
entirely with the product while psychology deals 
with the movement. Graphological inquiry has 
dealt with: 

(a) The influence of external factors (pen, ink, 
paper, etc.), 

(b) The range of individual variation dependent 
on subjective conditions (mood, emotional excite- 
ment, etc.), 

(c) The range of graphic control to determine 
what elements may be easily modified and which 
resist all attempts at disguise. 

(6) Pathological writing, which has for its object 
the diagnosis of disease. For instance, Dr. E. W, 
Scripture (57) reports a case of " penmanship stut- 
tering." A patient, thirty-eight years old, had been 


a stenographer for eighteen years. Then after three 
years of illness he secured a position as teller in a 
bank. His writing was poor, and was complained 
of by his employers. When other clerks were pro- 
moted, he was passed over. He tried in vain to 
improve his penmanship and became extremely 
nervous. When he arrived at his bank in the 
morning, a nervous fit would seize him and his 
writing became almost illegible. The treatment 
for his trouble was like that for stuttering. He was 
given a new alphabet similar to hierogliphics. At 
first he wrote with a brush, then gradually the old 
alphabet was substituted. As long as he thought 
he was doing it in the new way he was successful. 

3. The Graphologist and the Scientific Investigator. 
Unfortunately not many of these graphological 
claims have been verified by experimental tests. 
Miss June E. Downey (14) has assembled, in a very 
interesting and learned volume, facts concerning 
the present status of the science, and has made 
some original contributions of her own. 

Significance of size. But the conclusions of the 
graphologist and of the scientific investigator are 
seldom parallel. For instance, with reference to 
the size of writing, the following are the findings 
of the several methods of inquiry (14:45): 

(1) Graphological. Large writing means pride, 
ambition, imagination; spaced writing indicates 


clearness, generosity; small writing means love of de- 
tail, critical acumen, pedantry, finesse; compressed 
writing suggests parsimony, self-centeredness. 

(2) Mechanical. Size depends largely on the 
system of writing employed. It is greatly influ- 
enced by pen, paper, etc. 

(3) Pathological. Psycho-motor excitement is 
shown by increased size of writing; automatism 
leads to increase of dimension; loss of motor control 
may be masked by increased size; psycho-motor 
improvement results in reduced writing; fatigue may 
lead to reduced size. 

(4) Experimental. Increased size accompanies 
increased nervous activity; automatic writing pro- 
duced with distraction of attention shows increase 
in size; script produced with eyes closed is usually 
larger; decrease in size is associated with lessened 
speed; it comes when effort is involved or when 
attention is directed toward movement; it is an 
outcome of intentional increase in speed; disguised 
writing is often reduced in size. 

From this exhibit it is evident that the grapho- 
logical position is largely based on assumptions 
which await verification. 

This statement, however, does not apply to the 
methods of the handwriting expert in identifying 
handwriting and penetrating disguises for legal 
purposes. Osborn (51) gives us a most illuminating 


account of the mechanical appliances used by these 
experts, such as the document microscope, the 
enlarged photograph, and delicate scales for deter- 
mining line width, degree of curvature of con- 
necting lines, and similar graphic details. That 
these methods are reliable is attested by hundreds 
of legal battles whose outcome turned on evidence 
of handwriting experts. The writer has himself 
had experience with anonymous letters written by 
teachers. Experts in each case picked out the 
guilty parties by examining more than half a 
hundred specimens of writing. In each case author- 
ship was denied until the defendant was confronted 
with the evidence at the trial, when full confession 
was made. 

School Intelligence and Handwriting. What corre- 
lation is there between general school achievement 
and skill in penmanship? Mr. Arnold L. Gesell (26) 
has made a study of this question and also of the 
relation between sex and handwriting. On the 
basis of 12,600 specimens of handwriting selected 
from the school children of Worcester, Mass., he 
concludes that : 

1. For large numbers of cases, accuracy in the 
writing of elementary pupils tends to vary directly 
with school intelligence. 

2. From the fifth grade through the high school, 
girls write more accurately than boys. 


3. Boys show a tendency toward incoordinated 
writing in all grades. 

4. Sex differences in writing become marked 
about the age of ten, and are largely attributable to 
mental qualities. Similar sex differences were dis- 
covered in spelling ability by Cornman (11). Boys 
show a motorial incoordination of 54.8 per cent, 
while girls have only 44,8 per cent. This excess of 
error by defect of motor process on the part of boys, 
says Cornman, may be accounted for by the direction 
of their attention to the completion of the word as a 
whole, while the superiority of the girls may be 
conversely ascribed to their care in the formation of 
each letter. The same considerations account for 
the fact that boys write more words than girls, 
but girls are better spellers. 

(5) If writing is an index, then painstaking or 
careless qualities in a motor function bespeak in 
pupils of the elementary grades the same qualities 
in general school work. 

This study was made before any of the hand- 
writing scales were in existence and before most of 
the intelligence and achievement tests now familiar 
to school men had been constructed. In these 
measuring instruments we have a simple and much 
more reliable method of ascertaining the correlation 
between school intelligence and handwriting ability 
than Geseli had at the time of his investigation. 




1. We may roughly divide the development of 
handwriting into three stages, the imitative, the 
formative, and the confirmed or settled. 

2. The writing process is a very complex coor- 
dinated movement, which may be resolved into: 

(1) Finger movement. 

(2) Hand movement from the wrist as center. 

(3) Arm movement from the elbow as center. 

(4) Arm movement from the shoulder as center. 

(5) Pronation. 

3. The variety of combinations of these several 
movements and the preponderance of one or the 
other lead to individuality in handwriting. There 
is no one combination which is best for all. 

4. Writing at first is a coordinated movement of 
the voluntary kind. This means that many differ- 
ent muscles must be energized at just the right 
moment and with an exact degree of strength if 
the movement is to be successful. 

5. This harmony of action can be achieved only 
by long and careful practice. The object of the 



learner has been accomplished only when what was 
at first voluntary coordination has become invol- 
untary or automatic. 

6. Diffusion of effort is one of the early difficulties 
of the learner. He energizes groups of muscles 
which are not needed in writing. " Nature attacks 
her problems of development by producing more 
than she needs and then picking out the best. De- 
velopment means the selection of the right move- 
ments out of a total mass of diffuse movements" 

7. The wrist should be inclined not more than 45 

8. The hand should be supported on the third 
and fourth fingers (Freeman). 

9. The writing arm should be perpendicular to 
the line of writing (Freeman). To effect this the 
paper must be turned so that the lower left-hand 
corner points toward the body. 

10. The penholder should be held loosely and in 
such a way that the forefinger is below the thumb 

11. Good writers use more arm movement than 
poor writers, although finger movement is also 
employed by most good writers (Freeman). 

12. Good writers move more easily along the line 
than poor ones (Freeman). 


13. "The good writer divides the writing move- 
ment into a series of units, corresponding to the 
natural units of form of letters, more radically than 
does the poor writer " (Freeman). 

14. The whole-arm movement in the primary 
grades is harmful and violates the principle that 
nothing should be taught at one stage that must 
be unlearned at a later stage (Palmer). 

15. Investigators disagree as to the correct pro- 
cedure in primary grades. Some would stress move- 
ment and speed, deferring form to a later period; 
others would stress form, postponing speed and 
movement to a later period. 

16. Nutt's experiments indicate that arm move- 
ment should not be stressed before the age of nine 
or ten. 

17. " Pupils who make high grades in quality do 
not use a large amount of arm movement more com- 
monly than do poor writers" (Nutt). 

18. Considerable correlation exists between speed 
and arm movement; "but many finger-movement 
writers write with as great a speed as any arm- 
movement writer" (Nutt). 

19. Several experts believe that the extensive 
use of formal "push-pull" and oval drills is a waste 
0f time. They secure all movement drills through 
exercises in letter formation (Houston, Mills). 


20. Rhythmic movement increases naturally with 

21. Nutt found no correlation between rhythm 
and quality; but Freeman suggests that there may 
be advantages which are offset by disadvantages. 

22. There is a decided correlation between 
rhythm and speed, and rhythm "resembles speed 
in that an extreme degree of it is probably unfavor- 
able to form" (Nutt). 

23. McAllister found that a slant of 48 permits 
the most rapid writing. 

24. The hand acquires a slope that is farther 
removed from the vertical than the model used 
as a copy, a child usually deviating 10 (McAllister). 

25. The greater the slant to the right the more 
rapid will be the writing. 

26. A slant of 75 permits legible writing, but as 
the angle decreases below 70, the legibility de- 
creases rapidly (McAllister). 

27. A base line is desirable to guide the eye across 
the page. Other lines cause the child to give more 
attention to spacing and height than to form and 
movement (McAllister). 

28. As to size, each pupil should be permitted to 
use that which is natural to him (McAllister). 

29. Children, in first learning to write, use the 
finger and wrist movements, which produce small 
writing (McAllister). 


30. From the point of view of subject matter, 
handwriting is one of the manual arts and is pri- 
marily a form of motor training. The psychology 
of writing is therefore the psychology of voluntary 
movement and habit. 

31. A study of "unconscious imitation " by Starch 
proves that one's writing is largely affected by the 
model, even when there is no intentional imitation. 
This shows the importance of requiring the teacher 
to be an expert in the kind of writing she is ex- 
pected to teach. 

32. Starch's experiment explains also why a 
child's writing in a copy book that has many lines 
declines regularly and ends in a scrawl on the last 
line. A movable copy slip which hides the pupil's 
own writing and always keeps the correct copy in 
view is better than a copy book. 

33. A copy book or copy slip may be used as a 
corrective of form; "as the dictionary is consulted 
when one is in doubt about the spelling of words " 

34. In forming the letters we depend chiefly on 
the muscular and tactile sensibility; but the general 
and coordinating control necessary in making one 
line equal to another is left entirely to the eyes 
(Wood worth), 

( Writing is an example of habit formation; hence 


the following laws of habit should be recalled in this 

35. Habit simplifies movement by eliminating 
useless motions. 

36. Habit makes for accuracy. 

37. Habit reduces fatigue by eliminating diffusion 
of effort. 

38. In habit formation we must launch ourselves 
with as strong and decided an initiative as possible. 
This points to the necessity for motivating our 
writing drills. 

39. Never suffer an exception to occur till the 
new habit is securely rooted. This law is violated 
when we permit a pupil to practice a wrong form 
or movement. 

40. The law of effort must also be invoked. If 
we fail to motivate drills through direct interest, 
then indirect interest, or effort, must be employed. 
The pupil must learn that some uninteresting things 
in life must nevertheless be done. 

41. Graphology is the science of estimating 
character or of determining personality by studying 
handwriting. A branch of this science is concerned 
with the identification of handwriting in legal or 
criminal cases (Downey). 

42. Certain elements of handwriting, such as 
relative proportion between one and two or three 
space letters, continuity of writing, mannerisms in 


dotting the i, etc., remain constant and cannot be 
disguised (Downey). 

43. Binet found that age could be determined by 
handwriting within an average of ten years, and sex 
in from 63 to 90 per cent of cases (Downey). 

44. Pathological writing is writing used to diag- 
nose disease. " Penmanship stuttering" is an il- 
lustration (Scripture). 

45. Writing is largely affected by external factors 
(pen, ink, paper, etc.) and by individual variation 
dependent on subjective conditions (mood, emo- 
tional excitement, etc.) (Downey). 

46. For large numbers of cases, accuracy in the 
writing of elementary pupils tends to vary directly 
with school intelligence (Gesell). 

47. Prom the fifth grade through high school 
girls write more accurately than boys (Gesell). 

48. Boys show a tendency toward incoordinated 
writing in all grades (Gesell). 

49. Sex differences in writing become marked 
about the age of ten (Gesell). 

50. If writing is an index, then painstaking or 
careless qualities in motor function bespeak, in 
elementary pupils, the same qualities in general 
school work (Gesell). 



Materials of Writing. All experience of writing 
teachers and supervisors emphasizes the importance 
of providing the pupil with the right kind of writing 
materials. Experimental investigations prove 
(Proposition 45) l that the quality of writing is 
largely affected by external factors, such as pen, 
ink, and paper, enumerated below, and by indi- 
vidual variations dependent upon subjective con- 
ditions, such as mood and emotional excitement. 
The case of "penmanship stuttering" cited on 
page 55 illustrates what emotional excitement 
may do to a writer. 

1. The seat should be of the proper height. The 
pupil should be able comfortably to put both feet 
squarely on the floor while he is sitting. 

2. The desk should be of the proper height. It 
will be about right if the pupil, while sitting erect, 
can comfortably rest both forearms on the desk. 

3. The pen and ink must be right. When every- 
thing is ready, you may take your position at the 
desk and have it understood that you will be "at 
home" to try pens for a few minutes. Every pupil 

1 The propositions referred to in this chapter are found in Chapter III. 



now makes a careful trial and inspection of his pen. 
If he thinks it is worn out, or if he is in doubt about 
it, he comes to you. A line is formed on your left 
of those who have doubtful or poor pens. You 
carefully try each pen; if you find one that is worn 
out, you give the pupil a new one. You have pre- 
viously attended to the ink, which must not be too 
thin nor too thick, but just thin enough to flow 
freely, and as black as possible. Pupils frequently 
say, "My ink is black." That is its chief merit; 
the trouble is that it is too thick to flow. No pupil 
can write well with either paste or water. To keep 
the ink in proper condition all the inkwells should 
be covered, and they should be filled probably 
twice a week. Several times a month they should 
be thoroughly cleaned. 

4. The paper must be right. I have seen chil- 
dren try to write on paper of such poor quality 
that it behaved like a blotter. It is a good plan in 
drill work to fold the paper vertically into two or 
three equal parts, and then shift it to the left on the 
completion of each division, so as to maintain 
uniformity of slant. 

5. The ruling should consist of a base line and no 
more (Prop. 27). Over exactness in early writing 
seems to violate the principle that we should teach 
one thing at a time. If the pupil writes on elabo- 
rately ruled paper, he feels as if he were walking on a 


tight rope. In every direction he is liable to make 
a false step and go to his doom. A further objec- 
tion to excessive ruling is that it deprives the pupil 
of the opportunity of exercising his judgment. If 
the eye, unaided by lines, is compelled to decide 
height and slant and length, the pupil receives more 
mental discipline from his writing lesson than he 
would if all these things were determined by 
mechanical devices. 

6. The position of the body must be right: 

(1) Both feet flat on the floor. 

(2) Head erect. 

(3) Body bent slightly forward from the hips. 

(4) Both elbows on the desk. 

7. The holding of the pen is important. Diffu- 
sion of energy usually causes the pupil to grip the 
holder very tightly and thus the hand soon tires. 
Most children grasp the pen too near the end. 
(Prop. 16, 37). The pen should be held lightly 
(Prop. 10) and in such a way that the forefinger is 
below the thumb (Freeman). The wrist should be 
inclined not more than 45 (Prop. 7). The hand 
should be supported on the third and fourth fingers 
(Prop. 8) and the writing arm should be perpen- 
dicular to the line of writing (Prop. 9). 

Other Essential Steps. After the external factors 
have been properly looked after, the actual teaching 


1. The mental process of learning to write offers 
no exception to the general law of learning. The 
"steps of the recitation" apply in this subject as 
well as in history, geography, and the other con- 
tent studies. In a well-ordered writing lesson there 
is preparation, followed by presentation, comparison, 
and deduction or drill. 

(1) The preparation is the analytical study of the 
copy or standard form to ascertain its elements. 
The first steps should usually be performed by 
the teacher and the class on the blackboard. 

(2) The presentation is the process of uniting the 
elements thus obtained into the forms which the 
child is to practice. 

(3) The third step is the stage of comparison, or 
the criticism of the learner's efforts. Has he 
succeeded? In what respects has he failed? The 
pupil should be trained to make these criticisms 
himself, and thus even a lesson in penmanship cul- 
tivates the power of reflection. Appeal to the 
child's own sense of symmetry. " Compare his 
irregular letters with his own regular letters. Show 
him how to try again on the basis of his own past 
efforts. In short, substitute a living, rational 
teacher and a self-criticizing pupil for a lifeless 
copy" (35:234). 

(4) The fourth and last stage is the practice, 
drill, or test. This is usually best obtained in the 


written work of the school outside of the writing 
period. Hence constant attention should be paid 
to the penmanship in composition, dictation, and 
other written exercises. There is just as much rea- 
son for observing this rule as there is for observing 
the rules of grammar in the oral and written lan- 
guage of the classroom. In none of his writing 
should the pupil be allowed to fall into careless 
habits. Even his notebooks should be regularly 
inspected by the teacher and criticized as to accu- 
racy and neatness. 

I 2. It is of the utmost importance that the teach- 
er's blackboard writing be as nearly perfect as 
possible (Prop. 31). Care should be taken that 
the pupil use the copy as a model rather than his 
own writing (Prop. 33) when he is asked to test the 
accuracy of his product. 

3. Nothing is more fatal to progress than to per- 
mit pupils to practice wrong forms (Prop. 39). 
Therefore individual criticism of pupils is indis- 
pensable. No teacher can successfully teach writ- 
ing by sitting at her desk. 

The Writing of the Youngest Pupils. Many points 
concerning the beginnings of writing are still in 
the controversial stage, because they<have not been 
settled by scientific inquiry. 

1. When to begin. The first question is, When 
should a child begin to write? He now begins in 


the first grade. He does the same in number 
work, but I have proved to my own satisfaction 
that all the time devoted to formal teaching in the 
first grade is wasted (64). It is quite possible that 
time devoted to formal lessons in writing is also 
wasted. The child's growth in maturity during the 
first year enables him to recover easily during the 
second year all the number work he missed during 
the first year. His growth in motor control may 
have a similar effect upon his handwriting. 

Thompson (66:86) says a child should begin to 
write when he is physically fit and when he needs 
it. As our schools are now organized he has very 
little use for writing during the first year except in 
arithmetic, and if numbers were omitted, that 
need would disappear. I do not believe anyone 
would claim that we have as yet ascertained when a 
child is physically fit to write. That he can learn 
to write at six is certain, for he is doing it. But 
whether that is the most favorable time is a ques- 
tion for future experiment to determine. Indeed, 
Thompson says "the child is not physiologically 
fitted to learn to write until the ninth or tenth year 
at least" (p. 89). It would require rather a radical 
reconstruction of our school practice to postpone 
writing so long. 

2* Fundamental to accessory (8). F N. Freeman 
(20) has examined the contention that children 


should use only the large fundamental muscles in 
school exercises and has come to the conclusion that 
the theory is not well founded. He cites numerous 
facts, open to common observation, showing that 
children use the small or peripheral muscles from 
the very beginning. Then he sums up in this 

Since the development of the child's general capacity in move- 
ment cannot be adequately described in terms of fundamental- 
accessory movement theory, we must seek to define it in other 
terms. Experimental evidence has clearly demonstrated that 
there is a marked development in movement in a number of 
respects. The steadiness with which a child of six can maintain 
any position is increased fourfold by the time he reaches the 
period of youth. Precision of movement is relatively deficient in 
the young child. In speed of movement there is an increase 
which is represented in tapping with the fingers by more than 
two in a second. The ability to make a complex movement, such 
as tying a knot, is noticeably deficient in a young child (p. 52). 

From these facts he deduces the following prac- 
tical rules: 

(1) "In lower grades, the writing period should 
come at a time when the child is not already 

(2) "Too great precision should not be de- 

(3) "A pen should not be used at all to begin 
with. The first pen should be coarse." 


/4) "The penholder should be of some material 
which can be easily held in position, such as cork 
or soft rubber, and should be of a medium size, 
smaller than that used by the older children." 

(5) "The surface of the paper should be hard 
enough so that the pen does not easily stick into it/ 7 

(6) "It is obvious to an observer of young chil- 
dren that . , . they contract too strongly the 
smaller muscles which control the fingers. -It be- 
comes necessary, then, to counteract this tendency 
to overuse by laying emphasis upon the use of the 
movements of the arm." This may be done by 
rhythmical movements to count or victrola music. 
"Rhythmical movements are known to produce 
much less fatigue than movements which are 

(7) "The writing of the beginner should have two 
characteristics. It should be very large, and it 
should be done with the arm as a whole rather than 
with the fingers. It is clear that a large letter can 
be made with much less precision than a small one 
without producing any greater departure from the 
true form of the letter. These two requirements 
of size and arm movement are met in the highest 
degree by blackboard writing. When the condi- 
tions make it impossible for the child to make the 
whole-arm movement properly, the next best pro- 
cedure is to use the arm movement with rest and 


require the child to write as large as his arm will 
permit. It will be possible to obtain writing in 
which the one-space letters are nearly one-half inch 
in height." 

I have quoted extensively from Mr. Freeman 
because he has given more time and attention to 
experimental work in handwriting than any other 
person in America. His demand for whole-arm 
movement is undoubtedly sound. Exaggeration of 
size and movement in handwriting has the same 
effect as the magnification of a flower or insect by 
a lens. It impresses the form of the letter and the 
nature of the movement more clearly and more 
vividly upon the mind. The only difference of 
opinion is on how long this exaggeration should 
continue. We have seen (Prop. 14) that the whole- 
arm movement does serious harm if continued too 
long. It is my opinion that the large writing on 
paper should not extend beyond two or three 
months; and that by the beginning of the second 
half of the first year the writing should be of normal 

(8) Nutt's experiments (Prop. 16) indicate that 
arm movement should not be stressed before the 
third year of school. In New York there are no 
movement drills prescribed by the Syllabus before 
the 2B grade (second half of the second yea^). Mc- 
Allister found that children, in first learning to 


write, use the finger and wrist movements (Prop. 
29). In St. Louis arm movement is stressed from 
the third year. 

3. Form of the movements. The question as to 
what should be the form of the movement drill when 
it is introduced is important. We have seen that 
two prominent supervisors (Prop. 19) believe that 
the drills should be on letter or word forms rather 
than on abstract lines and ovals. The principle 
involved, it will be noticed, is the same as that 
which is now applied to manual training and other 
subjects, the principle of correlation. Formerly the 
pupil was occupied in making joints and dovetails, 
in smoothing and shaping and rounding pieces of 
wood. None of these exercises led to a definite 
practical end in which the pupil was naturally inter- 
ested. Now the manual training teacher has his 
pupil employed upon the construction of useful 
articles. The product is a completed thing whose 
value the child appreciates. All project work em- 
bodies the same principle. Even the music teacher 
has discovered that it is better to motivate practice 
by giving the pupil a " piece " from the start than 
to keep him indefinitely on dreary finger exercises, 

4. When shall we use ink f Mr. Palmer thinks a 
^-year-old child is not too young to use ink. Dis- 
trict Superintendent Rector, who has had excep- 
tional experience to justify h opinion, says, "All 


writing should be in ink. The only exception to 
this may be in arithmetic." In St. Louis the pencil 
is used for the first three years. We are thus again 
in the realm of opinion, because no experimental 
data are at hand. Until somebody proves some- 
thing, you will like what you like and I shall do 
the same. 

Writing in the Higher Grades. The following points 
are to be noted in a discussion of the writing of 
older children: 

1. Drills. If we remember that writing is a 
very complex coordinated movement of the volun- 
tary kind (Prop. 2, 4), the necessity for an abun- 
dance of drill of the right kind is at once apparent. 
The object of the writing drills is to make the move- 
ment automatic (Prop. 5). Investigations prove 
that we must expect children to use various combi- 
nations of finger, arm, and wrist movements (Prop. 
2, 3), but that the good writer uses more arm move- 
ment than the poor writer (Prop. 11). Hence the 
forearm movement drills should be stressed in all 
the upper grades. 

2. Motivation. These drills should be motivated 
by all kinds of devices, some of which are discussed 
elsewhere (see pp. 121, 170). One of the most po- 
tent of these is the exemption of pupils who have 
reached a certain standard. " Every test," says 
Freeman (20:150), "of the ability of pupils in 


handwriting brings out the fact of a large amount of 
overlapping in the successive grades. Many chil- 
dren are superior in attainment to the average of 
attainment of several grades above them. If the 
children were given an additional incentive to 
improvement by being granted exemption from 
the writing lesson on promotion to a higher grade 
as soon as they had attained the standard of the 
second grade above them, many of them would soon 
attain this degree of efficiency." 

3. Speed and quality. " In general, ' y says Thomp- 
son (66:57), "movement loses accuracy as speed is 
increased, but it is not true that equal increments 
of speed produce equal increments of error. . . . 
Therefore there is a lower limit beyond which 
decrease in speed does not conduce to greater 
accuracy. In the same way, at the upper end 
there is a limit beyond which increase in speed 
does not produce much further inaccuracy." 

In the first survey of my own district the evi- 
dence was plain that we had developed speed at 
the expense of form in many schools. As a rule the 
proportionate increase of arm movement (Prop. 18) 
tends to increase speed. Rhythmic movement 
tends to improve both form and speed (Prop. 20, 
21, 22). 

"Rapidity," says Thorndike, "is in and of itself 
a good sign. If we know nothing about one score 


or so of pupils save that they are rapid writers, and 
nothing about another score save that they are 
slow writers, we can prophesy that at the same rate 
the former groups will on the average do writing 
of a higher quality. . . . There is a close rela- 
tion between the quality of writing at a natural 
rate and that at a slower rate." A group of chil- 
dren producing a quality of high grade at a rate of 
33-37, inclusive, at the first test will produce a 
quality of high grade at a final rate of 52-60, in- 
clusive. " The gain in quality which a pupil secures 
by writing more slowly than his natural rate is not 
great. Sixty-one pupils whose rate was from 52-58 
words in four minutes, by reducing their rate to 
32-36 words in four minutes (that is, by writing 
only two thirds as fast) gained on the average in 
quality less than one step of the scale." 

4. Remedial instruction. Many writers on hand- 
writing remind us that scales should be used for 
diagnostic purposes, and when we have ascertained 
what is the specific weakness of a pupil or class, 
instruction should concern itself with an attempt 
to remedy that defect. Gray's Score Card is an ex- 
cellent device for locating a pupil's errors (see page 

5. Sex in writing. Girls are said to be more ac- 
curate in penmanship than boys (Prop. 47), who 
have a tendency toward incoordinated writing 


in all grades (Prop. 48). This does not appear to 
have much practical bearing upon the problem in 
hand, except to furnish "an alibi " for teachers of 
boys' classes. But alibis don't get you anywhere, 
so where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise. The 
fact of the matter is that boys can and do learn to 
write well under a competent instructor. If it is 
any comfort for teachers of boys to know that their 
work is harder than that of their comrades who 
teach girls, they are entitled to that consolation. 

6. Time element in writing. Concerning the 
length of practice periods, W. Smythe Johnson (33) 
reports the following interesting conclusion: 

(1) When practice is carried on until the move- 
ments become irregular, the practice becomes in- 
jurious, for the irregular movements become in- 
corporated into the chain of reaction as certainly as 
those which are purposefully directed. If wrong 
adjustments of muscles are made, and these gain a 
place in the chain of subconscious memories, then 
these adjustments delay the development of the 
control over the muscles for accurate adjustment. 

(2) "Short periods of practice often repeated 
make for more rapid development of the accurate 
adjustment of voluntary movements than few 
periods of longer duration." Whipple (72:26) 

a similar observation: "Make the duration 
your periods of study long enough to utilize a 


warming up, but not so long as to suffer from 
weariness or fatigue. 7 ' And again he says: "When 
drill or repetition is necessary, distribute over more 
than one period the time given to a specified learn- 
ing." According to Thorndike (67) three school 
systems out of seven measured "get little or no 
better results at a time cost of about 75 minutes a 
week than two systems do at zero time cost; and 
one system, at no greater time cost than C, D, and 
E, gets results about 25 per cent better than they do; 
and practice for quality may secure it only at the 
cost of speed. " 

7. Left-handed children. What to do with left- 
handed children is still a debated problem. On the 
one hand it is argued that equipment for writing is 
made for right-handed people; therefore the left- 
handed writer is always at a disadvantage. A 
prominent educator known to the writer has four 
sons, all of whom were left-handed, and all of whom 
were compelled by their father to write with the 
right hand. Many writing masters and super- 
visors maintain that all children should use the 
right hand. Psychologists, on the other hand, are 
not so emphatic on this point. They recognize the 
fact that left-handedness is a fundamental physio- 
logical condition, and that in many cases the at- 
tempt to change causes disturbance of speech. 
They therefore advise that if a child is strongly 


left-handed lie should be allowed to use his left 
hand. If his preference is only slight, he may be 
urged to use his right hand. 

8. Group teaching. Mr. Walker (70), who is su- 
pervisor of writing in the St. Louis Public Schools, 
has discovered, as every teacher has, "in every room 
above the third grade three distinct groups of 
writers the good, the mediocre, and the poor." 
The first step in the attempt to adapt the instruc- 
tion to the needs of children was to divide every 
class into three sections, known as A, B, C. The 
pupils changed their seats for writing lessons and 
each group received instruction on separate days, 
while the rest of the class were doing something else. 

The next step was to organize three adjacent 
rooms so that all the A's were in one room at writing 
time, all the B's in another, and all the C's in 
another. This added much to the interest and the 
progress of the pupils. 

Then the promotion idea suggested itself. Once 
a month there was a regrading. The best writers 
in the A group went to the C room and became 
exempt or helpers. The rest of the children were 
moved up as their proficiency warranted. 

The plan was extended throughout the "school 
and then to the city as a whole. 

The advantages claimed are: 

(1) Very few failures. 


(2) Percentage of good writers among boys 
greatly increased. 

(3) The children are able to complete formal 
practice much earlier than formerly. 

(4) Supervision is simplified. 

(5) Instruction is simplified. 

(6) Penmanship is motivated. 

Teaching Illiterates How to Write. For the use of 
evening schools in teaching illiterates, Mr. Massell 
(65) and the writer devised a plan which has been 
successfully employed for four years. Since it is 
brief, it is quoted here in full: 

The following course in Teaching to Write One's Name in 
Three Lessons is the outgrowth of experience in teaching illiterate 
adults how to write. This experience has convinced the authors 
that the short road to success is the tracing copy. That tracing 
is based on sound psychology needs no argument. By tracing, 
the learner gets an experience of how it feels to make the exact 
movement required. As O'Shea says, the pupil is unable to re- 
produce a form by simply looking at it, because " we see through 
our motor habits." By tracing a form, the pupil establishes a 
temporary mfrtor habit which enables him to see what the form 
actually is. 

Having decided upon the psychological foundation, the next 
step was to work out the details by experiment. The aim was 
to find the way in which an illiterate adult could be successfully 
taught to write his name in the shortest possible time. The ex- 
periment has convinced us that the result can be accomplished 
in three lessons. 

1. Educational value. We have found the course useful in. 
many ways. The illiterate adult, when he goes to evening 
school, often wants immediate results. Our course in writing 


erne's name serves this purpose and incidentally becomes an 
incentive to further study. 

Signatures are required in business, social, political, and reli- 
gious life. Everyone is required, at^one 'time or another, to write 
his name. The illiterate, by securing this very substantial 
help in three nights, sees that night schools have something 
valuable to offer him. Ability to write his name raises his self- 
respect, and adds to the security of his property. 

2. Method. Each class has two teachers. No instruction is 
given in this class except that of writing one's name and address. 
When the pupil enters the class, his name in stencil form is made 
out by a teacher who is a good penman. The size of the writing is 
exaggerated in the first model and reduced to normal in subse- 
quent lessons. 

The pupil takes the copy and writes as long as he wants to 
during the evening. The second teacher supervises the seat 
work, giving help and encouragement where these are needed. 
In later lessons the pupil practices until the normal size and 
satisfactory performance are attained. 

Writing by Tracing 

1. The new pupil on entering the class gives his name. 

2. The teacher writes the name on a piece of paper 
in slightly above normal-sized letters. Name to be 
written in a clear, bold hand so that the form of each 
letter and the connecting strokes are plainly visible. 

3. The name to be written lightly with pen or pencil 
and to be repeated at least twenty times. 

4. Whfle the teacher is writing the copy, the pupfl 
is to observe the teacher's position at the desk, the 

pen and paper, and the writing movement. 


5. The pupil is then directed to take his seat and a 
second teacher takes charge of him. 

6. With a soft pencil the pupil, under the guidance 
and supervision of the second teacher, proceeds to 
trace the twenty outlines given. 

7. Additional copies may be given to pupils who do 
not acquire facility in tracing by the twentieth time. 

Lesson not to exceed a half hour in duration. 

Writing from Copy 

1. As a review, five copies are given for tracing. 

2. Then a new sheet is given with one copy on it. 

3. The pupil proceeds to copy below the original. 
This is to be continued until the pupil acquires facility. 
No more than three copies are to be permitted on one 
paper. Give a new copy then, so that the teacher's 
copy may be the model and not the pupil's own efforts. 

Time not more than half an hour. 

Writing from Memory Application 

1. Let the pupil copy his name three times. (Review) 

2. Let the pupil write his name from memory. 

3. Resort to copying, if difficulty is experienced. 

4. Application: Signing checks, money orders, de- 
posit slips, post-office removal notices, receipts, etc. 

5. Write name on envelope. 

Fottow the same procedure in teaching one to write fns 

This course has been widely approved by busi- 
ness men, judges, lawyers, heads of city depart- 


ments, editors (Frank Crane has written on it), 
officers of the post-office department, the natural- 
ization bureau, banks, insurance companies, and 
the New York State Americanization Bureau. 

Departmental Teaching. Some writing experts are 
of the opinion that handwriting cannot be taught 
successfully in the elementary school by the depart- 
mental system, for the reason that the formal writ- 
ing lesson is only a small part of the writing situa- 
tion. Unless pupils are held to correct posture, 
relaxation, pen holding, movement, etc., in all 
writing, they will never become good writers. This 
opinion, however, is not universally valid. I have 
seen writing taught with great success by the de- 
partmental plan in the grades, and in the secondary 
school it is necessarily so taught. In the St. Louis 
Survey it is recorded (Vol. 5, p. 226) that depart- 
mentalization in the upper grades has been success- 
ful. Careful tests showed that children so trained 
wrote almost as well in all of the grades and fully 
as well in two of them, when their attention was 
upon the thought which they were expressing, as 
when they were doing the formal writing lesson. 
This indicates that the writing habit is not confined 
to the writing lesson and is, therefore, an evidence 
of good instruction. 

It is safe to assume that these results were achieved 
by the competent supervision of the principal. 



In order to be strictly in the fashion of the day, 
one ought to speak of the "objectives" of hand- 
writing. But we elders of the profession who have 
lived through so many changes of fashion in educa- 
tional lingo ought not to be chided if we exercise our 
individuality by affecting last year's style. What 
we meant yesterday and what we mean today is 
that there must be a reason for teaching penman- 
ship. What is that reason? Only two cities 1 re- 
port serious consideration of the aims of penmanship 
teaching. As it is one of the traditional Three B/s, 
its necessity has probably been generally assumed, 
and not much thought has apparently been given 
to the function of writing and its proper place 
among the hierarchy of studies. Tacoma says: 

The purpose of penmanship ... is that pupils may acquire 
efficient habits in a skill useful in varying degrees throughout 
life. . . . The m6st valuable by-product resulting from effi- 
cient penmanship training is, without question, that of self- 
discipline. This may be translated into such terms as neatness, 
relaxation, close observation, muscular coordinations, rhythmic 
response, appreciation of beauty, orderly thinking. 

1 All citations of practices and opinions of other cities are taken from 
answers to the writer's questionnaire on the Supervision of Handwriting 
referred to in Chapter VI. 



The foes of Formal Discipline, please take notice! 
St. Louis states the aim in these terms: 

The chief business of the school is to assist the child in build- 
ing up organized concepts of the world; to help him to make 
these concepts more definite, complete, comprehensive, and to 
give them adequate meaning. All the school subjects reading, 
writing, spelling, arithmetic, music, drawing grow out of and 
are subordinate to this organization of the child's imagery, to 
the end that he may gain greater control over his world. The 
only means by which the child may organize and complete his 
imagery is through expression. . . . Handwriting is one means 
of organization or interpretation; it should not be made an 
objective; it is a means to an end, a mode of expression. 

The educational value of the several subjects in 
the curriculum, I think, might be roughly summed 
p under the following five heads: 1 

First. Utilitarian Value 

Second. Conventional Value 

Third. Disciplinary Value 

Fourth. Subjective or Interpretative Value 

Fifth. Ethical Value 

If you test subjects under these five heads, you 
will find that some have more of one than of the 
others. History, for instance, has conventional 
value. A certain amount of historical knowledge 
is assumed in the case of anyone who aspires to 

i Parts of this chapter axe taken from an address on "The Educational 
,o Muscular Movement" delivered by the author in 1911, and 
from stenographic notes by the A. N. Palmer Company 
by the A. N. Palmer Company. ^^ 


polite society. To be ignorant of the history of 
one's country would be a discredit. Not to have 
heard of Julius Caesar, or Socrates, or Napoleon, 
or the Duke of Wellington would be a serious slur 
upon one's intelligence. Such facts in themselves 
may have little or no practical value, but they have 
conventional value. Then history has also utili- 
tarian value, for it enables the citizen to vote 
intelligently and to reason correctly upon social 
and historical themes. Again, history has subjec- 
tive or interpretative value, for it enables one to 
understand what he reads in newspapers and books 
when historical persons or events are alluded to. 
Lastly, history has ethical value. Heroic and noble 
personages serve as ideals of character and incite 
the student to emulate unselfish and valiant deeds. 
1. Utilitarian value. I think most people will 
admit that penmanship does possess this value, 
although some educators have spoken rather con- 
temptuously of the subject. They have pooh- 
poohed writing as having no educational value at 
all. Some have even advocated the use of the 
typewriter in the classroom (as is done in schools 
and classes for the blind) so that writing would 
become again a useless art, as in medieval days, 
when it was regarded as an accomplishment beneath 
the dignity of well-bred people. When I was edi- 
tor of the New York Teachers Magazine, I printed 


an article from the pen of a Chicago school princi- 
pal in which the writer solemnly declared that "the 
writing machine is coming into the public school. 
The children will be thankful/ 7 he said, "when they 
are relieved of such an immense amount of useless 
drudgery as the pen now imposes upon them." So 
we have had all sorts of extreme views concerning 
the slight value of penmanship as a school exercise 
from men in the highest places of authority in the 
educational world. 

What is the utilitarian value of rapid business 
writing? Here is an excerpt bearing on this point 
written by the late Mr. Henry Clews, the New 
York banker: 

I am always ready to consider applications for positions in 
my office from bright, intelligent boys from sixteen to eighteen 
years of age. Such boys should have had a complete course in 
the common schools, and should have some associates that -will 
vouch for their good conduct and integrity. In my employ 
there are about one hundred and fifty young men, and they were 
all able to answer the requirements I have stated. I invariably 
ask young men to make their applications in their own hand- 
writing, and I make my preliminary selections on the score of 
their chirography. I regret to say that the value of legible pen- 
manship in this connection is often underrated in America. In 
England it is otherwise. There, writing of the copper-plate 
style is insisted upon. I would advise young men seeking posi- 
tions to practice good penmanship. It is a valuable thing, 
ataost a necessity. The first position that I held in New York 
was wifch Wilson G. Hunt and Company, who had advertised 


for an assistant bookkeeper. I was told that I was engaged 
because of my penmanship. That was the beginning of my 
Wall Street career. 1 

The fact that business schools flourish alongside 
of our free public schools shows that there is utili- 
tarian- value in penmanship, because the pupil 
comes here and pays to learn to write after we have 
wasted eight years in a vain effort to teach him the 
same thing. I am ashamed that the pupil should 
have to spend money to make up for our de- 
ficiencies. When we come to think it over, it is a 
wicked thing that we should devote eight years to 
an art so simple as writing, and then turn the pupil 
out with an atrocious writing habit and pass him 
on to the high school. The longer he remains in 
the high school the worse his writing gets. By the 
time he finishes his college course he is a hopeless 
"scribbler. One of the worst jobs ever handed to me 
was a set of examination papers on the history and 
principles of teaching, written by college graduates. 
They were applicants for positions as teachers in 
our city high schools. When I had finished the 
reading of those papers, I realized most vividly the 
utilitarian value of penmanship. Before asking an 
examiner to rate papers written in such dreadful 

i From the magazine, Success. Mr. Cameron Beck, Personnel Direc- 
tor of the New York Stock Exchange, who passes on the applications 
of several thousand boys applying for work each year, confessed to me 
recently that one of the most serious deficiencies of the boys is poor hand- 


scrawls, the Board of Education should hire a clerk 
to transcribe the stuff by means of a typewriter. 

Penmanship has further utilitarian value. Dur- 
ing the early days of my superintendence I exam- 
ined certain schools and tested twenty or thirty 
classes in spelling. Every now and then, while the 
teacher was dictating the words, I remarked, "You 
are dictating too rapidly." And the teacher would 
say, "No, there is plenty of time." I had for- 
gotten that they were "Palmer Schools," and that 
they were learning to write rapidly. I was thinking 
about the length of time it used to take to do spell- 
ing, before the introduction of arm-movement writ- 
ing. I found I could save at least half the time 
it used to take to dictate ten words in spelling. 
Now, as I examine five or six hundred classes in 
spelling every year, it is plain that business writing 
has utilitarian value to me. It gets me out of the 
school more quickly; and it has utilitarian value to 
the teacher, because she is very anxious to get rid 
of me! 

I went to one of my schools not long ago and 
observed a teacher dictating a paragraph from 
Daniel Webster. We timed the children. The 
slowest pupil in class did it in six minutes. I know 
that twenty years ago any teacher in New York 
trotild have spent forty minutes on that exercise. 
fe fee of Dr. Maxwell's reports of that day he 


criticizes our dictation and makes the statement 
that in many classes forty-five minutes is con- 
sumed in the dictation of four lines of poetry. It 
was true. I can prove it, for I did it myself! 

2. Conventional value. Now, as to conventional 
value. This is a value apart from any use one in- 
tends to make of the subject or art. It is negative. 
It is like spelling. No one receives any special 
credit for being a good speller, but it is a disgrace 
to be a poor one. Similarly, poor handwriting is a 
discredit. You judge people by their handwriting. 
While graphology is not yet wholly on a scientific 
basis (see page 56), nevertheless there are certain 
kinds of writing that people commonly would not 
associate with intelligence. On the other hand, 
when you see a good, free form of writing, you say 
that person has training. 

3. Disciplinary value. Does writing possess dis- 
ciplinary value? Professor McMurry proposes this 

" Mental development should be expected as a 
very valuable by-product brought about in the 
course of the accomplishment of pieces of work that 
for other reasons deserve to be done/' The 
"other reasons" in the case of penmanship are its 
practical value and its conventional value. Does 
it possess also, as an incidental by-product, dis- 
ciplinary value? 


I do not know whether there is very much general 
development that comes from penmanship. It 
is not one of the traditional culture subjects like 
literature, history, mathematics, and philosophy. 
It is a school art. It is one of the nine modes of 
expression which formed so significant a part of the 
educational theory and practice of the late Colonel 
Parker. He taught us, following Froebel, that 
discipline or development is chiefly an outcome of 
expression. It is only by means of expression that 
the pupil becomes creative. While he is listening 
or reading, he is a mere sponge. When he expresses 
his ideas by writing or drawing or modeling, he 
selects his own language, rearranges his material, 
and produces something that is original. 

Moreover, the cultivation of motor control is 
mental discipline, just as much as learning history, 
or literature, or logic. Writing belongs to the 
executive part of the soul. As Earl Barnes says: 

A child, or a man, is a unit. Whenever a nervous system is 
so trained that it enables its possessor to cut to a line, to make 
a good chair, a good picture, or a good written letter, it has pre- 
pared the mind to think "twice two is four." Manual training 
is not drawing, and penmanship is not thinking, but any kind 
of good and accurate work trains the nervous system and the 
mind for good work in any other field of activity (4:389). 

There are many subjects in the course of study 
that are not well understood by illiterate or slightly 


educated parents. Whether nature study is well 
or 01 taught in any given grade few laymen would 
be able to decide. The same may be said of 
elementary history and geography. Courses of 
study differ as to the grade where these subjects 
begin, the order of their development, and the 
method of teaching them. But any parent can tell 
whether a child writes well or ill; and satisfactory 
progress in this art goes far to persuade people that 
the school is doing satisfactory work in other 

The ability to write a good letter is a measure 
that most people apply as a test of progress in 
school. The acknowledgments of gifts and greet- 
ings which children write to their friends always 
elicit a favorable or unfavorable comment on the 
part of the recipients of such letters. Beautiful 
and legible penmanship covers a multitude of sins. 
You will recall how Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage 
Patch, because her late husband had so few virtues, 
never failed to dwell on the fine hand he wrote. 
The only object we have in writing anything is to 
enable some one to read what we have written. 
Why should we not try to render the task of reading 
as easy and pleasurable as possible? 

4. Subjective or interpretative value. I think we 
shall have to admit that penmanship has little 
value of this kind except as we use it to interpret 


character and as experts use it in legal proceedings 
to identify the authors of forgery or the writers of 
anonymous communications of a libelous or crimi- 
nal character. 

5. Ethical value. I discovered, as a class teacher, 
that writing and drawing are among the most 
valuable aids in reforming "bad" children. If you 
succeed in making a troublesome child write a good 
copy, praise him for it. That immediately raises his 
self-respect and his respect for you. He will feel, 
even if he does not say so, "Well, my teacher does 
know how to teach writing." And if on a lucky 
day such a pupil should be selected as a helper to 
show other children how to write, his cup of happi- 
ness would be filled. It is a well-known fact that 
numbers of children who are inapt at book study 
and intellectual pursuits, take kindly to any kind of 
manual exercise. Hence writing, drawing, or shop 
work has been .the initial step in the reform of many 
a delinquent. 

6. Time value. How much is penmanship worth 
in terms of a 1500-minute time schedule? If the 
median time devoted to the subject is 75 minutes a 
week, that is 5 per cent of the school time. If the 
school year is about 180 days of 5 hours each, 
the total annual school time is 900 hours, and for 
8 years it is 7200 hours. Five per cent of that 
is 36 hours, or 72 school days. Is that too much 


time to devote to the acquisition of an art that has 
great social and vocational value throughout the 
life of an individual? In the writer's opinion the 
time is not excessive if the outcome is satisfactory. 
But unfortunately in many cases the harvest is so 
meager that it does not pay for the labor expended 
in its production. 

The above statement, however, applies to other 
parts of the curriculum as well as to penmanship. 
For the distribution of skill among teachers is no 
exception to the general law of variability in nature. 
A certain proportion possess a median grade of 
ability, say 40 per cent, 20 per cent are above the 
average, 10 per cent far above the average, while 
about 20 per cent are below the average, and 10 
per cent far below the average, It is inevitable 
that in the course of his career a pupil should fall 
into the hands of one or more incompetent teachers. 
It may be his luck to have a succession of them. 
And then again, many teachers are successful in other 
subjects but failures in handwriting, while a few are 
skilful in penmanship and poor in other subjects. 

'There are so many factors in the production of 
good writing that the time element alone may be 
an insignificant part of the entire situation. Among 
seven school systems examined, Thorndike found 
two that, while devoting no special time to hand- 
writing, had penmanship equal in quality to that 


of three other systems in which 75 minutes a week 
was spent on the subject. Dr. J. M. Rice discov- 
ered similar facts about spelling in 1897. Schools 
that devoted 60 minutes a day to the subject had 
no better spelling than those that employed only 
15 minutes a day. For this reason Rice came to 
the conclusion that all spelling time in excess of 
15 minutes a day is wasted. 

In New York the official writing time is 75 
minutes a week for the first six years and 60 min- 
utes for the last two. 

In St. Louis the first three grades have 80 min- 
utes a week, the next three 120 minutes, and the 
last two 60 minutes. This is an average of 90 
minutes for the eight years. 



The Need of Supervision. The teacher seldom real- 
izes how much of her success is due to efficient 
supervision or how much of her failure, where there 
is failure, is due to inadequate supervision. In fact, 
teachers have been known to ask, Why are super- 
visors? Why is a principal? Why is a district 
superintendent? Let other arts furnish the answer. 
Here is a comment on acting by John Peter Toohey, 
general manage/of the Modern Theater Company, 
which produced Molnar's play, Fashions far Men. 
The extract is part of a letter published in Hey- 
wood Broun's column in the New York World: 

You said that fine acting was largely a matter of inspiration; 
that experience helped the actor little, that practice helped Hfrn 
less, and intelligence not at all. 

Because you "write too plausibly and because I myself have 
never given the subject any real thought I believed you. Then 
the rehearsals for Molnar's Fashions for Men began and I had 
before my eyes a practical test of your theory. And now I tell 
you that you were utterly wrong. I can tell you that the acting 
which you praised so cordially in your recent review of the 
Molnar play was the result not of accident or inspiration but of 
careful, painstaking planning and preparation. The company 
and it is a company of rather more than average intelligence 
was started off largely on its own devices. Every player was 



permitted to move and gesticulate and read as he saw fit. The 
result was chaos. Then, bit by bit, the director began to shape 
and revise the player's conception of mood, his idea of pace and 
pitch and emphasis, his scheme of gesture and movement. I was 
amazed in the end to see how little of the players' own concep- 
tion remained. 

This state of affairs is not peculiar to Fashions for Men. It is 
inevitable with every play that bears the remotest resemblance 
to life, for the actors are merely the voices of the orchestra, and 
however competent they may be individually they will fail to 
achieve harmony without the conductor's controlling hand. 
Here and there, to be sure, may come a solo passage for the first 
violin or the oboe wherein individual virtuosity may shine, but 
the bulk of the composition is a matter of teamwork, of absolute 
subordination to a harmonic plan. 

Aye, there's the rub! Left to his own devices the actor is apt 
to treat every phase as a bravura passage. He is concerned 
with his own r61e and not with his proper place in the pattern. 

Substitute "teacher" for "actor" in this passage, 
and you have a perfect description of what happens 
to a school where every player is permitted to move 
and gesticulate and read as he sees fit. The result is 
chaos. It is absolutely necessary to have a leader 
who decides where each actor's proper place is in 
the pattern. 

On the same day in which the letter on acting was 
published, Mr. Deems Taylor, the World's musical 
critic, wrote this: 

What Pom/oZ needs at the Metropolitan is not primarily 
siegers or better scenery or a better orchestra (Mr. 


Bodanzky conducted a really eloquent performance), but a 
little more imagination. There seems to be no one in charge 
who combines the knowledge of what to do with the authority 
to get it done. 

The weaknesses were individually negligible and collectively 
disastrous. The knights had been told what to do and did it; 
but they did everything together, as if fastened to a common 
string. The singers had obviously been allowed to choose their 
own costumes. Some of them, notably Mr. Bender's and Mr, 
WhitehilPs, were perfect. Some were all wrong. Parsifal wore 
a simple, knee-length garment, just as Wagner said he should; 
but it is doubtful if Wagner had meant the garb to be cut and 
worn in such wise that Parsifal looked more like Anne Penning- 
ton than a Knight of the Grail. In the seduction scene Kundry 
wore a form-fitting, heavily beaded gown that looked gorgeous, 
but that clanked and tinkled at every move with the sound of 
glass porti&res. In her more impassioned moments she nearly 
drowned the orchestra. 

Nor could one manage any emotion except that of mirth 
during the spear-throwing episode, when the spear, sliding 
languidly down its perfectly visible wire, slowed down obligingly 
and stopped with a jerk over Parsifal's head, waiting to be un- 
hooked. And never, never, shall we become reconciled to a 
Kundry, meek, penitent, kneeling before Parsifal with her wild 
and abundant tresses perfectly marcelled. 

There must be a way of doing these things differently. Per- 
haps, some time, the Metropolitan will discover it. 

Here we have an accurate picture of a school with 
good teachers and a poor principal, "where weak- 
nesses are individually negligible and collectively 
disastrous," because the teachers, though compe- 


tent, "have failed to achieve harmony without the 
conductor's controlling hand." 

It is an axiom in our profession that no school is 
any better than its principal. 


Replies to questionnaire. In order to ascertain 
how penmanship is supervised at present in urban 
communities, the author addressed the following 
circular to one hundred and thirteen cities of fifty 
thousand inhabitants or over: 


Office of the District Superintendent 
11 Hubert St. , New York 
Nov. 8, 1922 

My dear Superintendent: 

If you have a Director or Supervisor 
of PerDnanship, please hand him this 
circular. If you hare no such official, 
consign 'this at once to your waste "basket* 

To the Director or Supervisor of 

Dear Sir or Madam: 

I am trying to find the best way 
to supervise penmanship. Therefore I 
should be pleased to receive from 

1. A brief general description 
of your method of supervision. 


2. Any syllabus, instructions, 
circulars, or other documents 
issued "by you. 

Very truly yours, 

District Superintendent of Schools 
Districts 1 and 7 

<The following table gives the names of the thirty- 
five cities that answered the questionnaire: 



Baltimore, Md. 
Binghampton, N. Y. 

Boston, Mass. 
Chattanooga, Term, 
Columbus, Ohio 
Chicago, HI. 
Detroit, Mich. 
Elizabeth, N. J. 
Flint, Mich. 
Grand Rapids, Mich. 

Harrisburg, Pa. 
Hartford, Conn. 
Houston, Texas 
Lowell, Mass. 
Los Angeles, Calif. 


Joseph D. Noonan 

Mrs. Elizabeth 

Bertha A. Connor 

Clara R. Emens 

Sammie Cleveland 

Zaner-Boser Co. 


Lena A. Shaw 

G. G. Gudmundson 

Jean G. Farr 

Theodocia Carpen- 


Louis H. Stanley 

Anna Kelso 

Margaret Garvey 

R. E. Wiatt 

In Tehr. 

Syllabus Tr. Sch. 

Zaner System 

Zaner System 

Palmer System 

Palmer System 


Yes Yes 


Palmer System 

Palmer System 

Palmer System 




Zaner System 

Zaner System 




Laurence, Mass. 
Newark, N. J. 

New Haven, Conn. 
Omaha, Nebr. 
Providence, R. L 
Rochester, N. Y. 
Reading, Pa. 
Richmond, Va. 
St. Louis, Mo. 
Salt Lake City,Utah 
St. Paul, Minn. 
South Bend, Ind. 
Syracuse, N. Y. 
Springfield, Mass. 
Scranton, Pa. 
Tacoma, Wash. 
Trenton, N. J. 
New York, N.Y. 
Worcester, Mass. 

Supervisor Syllabus 

None Yes 

Raymond C. Good- Zaner System 


Harry Houston 
J. A. Savage 
Frances E. Watts 
Edward C. Mills 
Ethel Shelly 
W. C. Locker 
H. C. Walker 
Arthur J. Becker 

Cora A. Ney 
C. S. Chambers 

Hazel E. Smeed 
John 0. Peterson Outlines 
Alice E. Benbow Zaner System 
None Yes 

Margaret B. Toole Bulletins 

In Tchr. 
Tr. Sch. 


Zaner System 

Palmer System 
Locker System 


Weekly outlines 


Zaner System 


A personal letter from Associate Superintendent 
Oliver P. Cornman informs the writer that "we have 
now in Philadelphia a supervisor of handwriting 
who has been working in a few schools. . * . Next 
month we get five more supervisors, and year by 
y^aar we hope to increase the number until we shall 
have intensive supervision of this work." 


The information given in the replies is here sum- 


1. The Purpose of Penmanship Training 

2. The Need of a Supervisor 

3. The Course of Study 

4. Motivation 

5. Training of the Teachers 

6. The Demonstration Lesson 

7. Testing 

8. Miscellaneous Suggestions 

9. Fewer Movement Drills and More Application 

10. Tracing 

11. Pen and Ink 

12. Departmental Teaching 

In the discussion which follows frequent reference 
is made to the returns of the questionnaire. 

From the Research Bulletin of the National Edu- 
cation Association for March, 1923, we learn that 
the following nineteen additional cities have super- 
visors of penmanship: Birmingham, Ala.; Oakland, 
Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Indian- 
apolis, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; Minneapolis, Minn.; 
Canxden, N. J.; Paterson, N. J.; Yonkers, N.Y.; 
Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; 
Youngstown, Ohio; Portland, Me.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; 
Nashville, Tenn.; DaUas, Tex.; Fort Worth, Tex. 
We have thus accounted for fifty cities that employ 
one or more supervisors of handwriting. 


Is the Technical Supervisor of Handwriting Necessary? 
The writer was probably in error in advising super- 
intendents who have no penmanship supervisors to 
consign his circular to the waste basket. The result 
is that all but a few of the replies are from cities that 
employ a supervisor. It would have been illumi- 
nating to learn the methods used in cities that de- 
pend entirely upon principals for supervision. That 
is the case in New York and is the specific problem 
of the author. But as questionnaires are among 
the burdens of the modern superintendent the writer 
did not care to issue a second circular to mend his 

One superintendent, Mr. E. E. Lewis, of Rock- 
ford, Illinois, says bluntly that he doesn't believe 
in the supervision of penmanship by experts and 
that, in his judgment, it is a waste of time and 
money to overemphasize mechanical methods of 
teaching penmanship. At the other pole is Mr. 
R. E. Wiatt, of Los Angeles, who thinks that "a 
good live bunch of writing supervisors and assist- 
ants is the prime requisite." Between these ex- 
tremes stands Superintendent Sheridan, of Law- 
rence, Mass., who says that he had a supervisor 
some years ago when he introduced the Palmer 
system, but for fourteen years he has had none. 

This question is bound up with one's theory of 
supervision and teaching and the function of pen- 


manship. The expert is undoubtedly needed some- 
where. A course of study in writing ought to be 
made; and it cannot be made properly by a super- 
intendent and his committees unless they can 
qualify as writing masters. We admit this freely 
in other special subjects like music, drawing, cook- 
ing, and manual training. Writing, though one of 
the Three B/s, is really a manual art, and should be 
governed by principles of psychology and physi- 
ology, as well as by the experience of experts. Some 
of the larger cities find it impracticable to employ a 
staff of writing masters to teach in the classrooms. 
They therefore depend upon the class teacher to do 
the work. In this case the regular teacher should 
be required to qualify in the kind of writing she is 
expected to teach. 

In New York this is accomplished in a number of 
different ways. Some years ago many schools 
voluntarily adopted, with official sanction, the 
Palmer system, and, as is well known, Mr. Palmer 
will not be responsible for the writing of any class 
unless the teacher thereof practices to the point of 
perfection the Palmer method. In this way thou- 
sands of our teachers became expert writers. Then 
the Department of Education opened normal pen- 
manship classes in the evening high schools of the 
city, and teachers were encouraged to take these 
courses. A little later special teachers of penman- 


ship were appointed in the training schools, so that 
all the graduates of these institutions are now expert 
writers. The result is that today probably fifty per 
cent of our teaching and supervising staff are fine 

But mastery of the subject, though a large part 
of the necessary equipment of the teacher, is not 
quite the whole of it. Even if one hundred per cent 
of the teachers were good writers, supervision would 
still be necessary. 

The writer has been reluctantly compelled to 
revise his opinion on this subject by the results of 
the experiment detailed in chapters VII, VIII, and 
IX of this treatise. After the first survey he was 
quite confident that principals and their assistants 
as now trained in New York were able to supervise 
writing as well as other common branches. Seven 
of the twenty-five schools had achieved the pre- 
scribed standard in every grade and all of them had 
reached the standard in some grades. He was opti- 
mistic enough to believe that in another year he 
could bring all of them up to grade. He has been 
cured of this optimism, for the second survey proved 
that, while some schools had improved enormously, 
others had actually lost ground! 

An Experiment in the Supervision of Handwriting 
(58). The Detroit experiment in supervision, which 
had apt been made known when my own experiment 


began, throws considerable light on this question. 
The author of the report is supervisor of handwriting 
in the public schools of Detroit. In order to meas- 
ure the effect of supervision, a preliminary survey 
of penmanship was made in all the schools of the 
city. During the term ending June, 1919, the 
schools were divided into four groups of twenty- 
three each. The point scores for rate and quality 
were tabulated and the quartiles computed. An 
equal number of schools whose results fell into the 
upper, middle, and lower quartiles was put into each 
group, so that the groups would be well balanced. 

Group I was not visited by the supervisor at all. 

Group II was visited twice by the supervisors. 
About fifteen minutes were given to each room. 
The teacher gave the lesson and the supervisor gave 
little help, his presence being the chief stimulus to 

The rank of each school in Group III was made 
known, so that supervisors could give more help to 
schools that needed it most. Two visits were made 
to each school in this group. 

The schools of Group IV were visited in the same 
manner as those of Group III, but further informa- 
tion was given. Not only the rank of each school 
was known, but also the rank of each room. Spe- 
cial attention was given to rooms ranking in the 
lowest quartiles. 


The results were as follows: 

(1) Group I made a medium of 29.1 per cent 

of possible gain. 

(2) Group II made 35.8 per cent gain. 

(3) Group III made 40.1 per cent gain. 

(4) Group IV made 37.4 per cent gain. 
The general conclusions are: 

(1) Supervision pays. 

(2) That supervision is most effective which 

gives special attention to those who 
need it most. 

This is another instance of confirming common 
sense and common experience by scientific experi- 
ment. The ultimate result of the experiment was 
the permanent adoption of this method of super- 
vision in the city of Detroit. 

The Technical Supervisor Indispensable. This is 
proved to the writer's satisfaction by his own ex- 
periment as well as that of Detroit. 

(1) Teachers are incapable of making scientific 
surveys. One thing is perfectly obvious as a result 
of these two surveys; namely, that teachers without 
special training cannot successfully use our writing 
scale to measure their products. Seventeen schools 
reported that they had used the scale. On many 
desks I found packages of writing drills that had 
been scored. In nearly every instance the class 
median was marked higher than the grade standard. 


Yet the scientific survey shows that some of these 
same teachers are far below standard and that they 
are making no progress. Such scoring is worse than 
useless because it gives teachers a false sense of 
security. Ordinary judgment seems to be safer 
than inaccurate scoring. Mr. Nif enecker's assistant, 
iMr. Hentz, found it necessary to have ten sessions of 
several hours each before his seventy-nine scorers 
were able to do work that had scientific validity. 

But after all, no one should be surprised at this 
discovery. The instruments of scientific measure- 
ment are highly technical, and require delicate ad- 
justment and manipulation which only the expert 
can achieve. We need no demonstration of the 
fact that a game of skill like golf requires long prac- 
tice under expert guidance to make a good score. 
To become really proficient requires years of prac- 
tice. This is true also of skill in law and medicine and 
preaching and teaching. Many things can be taught 
by books and lectures and classroom instruction, but 
actual skill, whether of the surgeon, the lawyer, or 
the preacher, can come only by experience. 

The tools of the intellect demand as much prac- 
tice as those of the hand. All intelligence and 
achievement scales are such tools. An apprentice 
may use them, but his product will be as crude and 
imperfect as that of the beginner in golf, or car- 
pentry, or painting. Only the master workman can 


turn out a marketable product in industry. The 
same is true in the field of educational measure- 
ment. The reason why this matter is thus stressed 
here is because, for the first time, the writer has 
become thoroughly convinced of the facts in the 
case. It is a serious matter to exploit children by 
investigations when the investigators are so ill quali- 
fied for their task that the results are worthless. 
Here is a case where Josh Billings' saying applies: 
"It is better to know less than to know so much 
that ain't so." 

Superintendent Ettinger was therefore merely 
protecting the children when he issued his recent 
order that all scientific measurement work is to be 
supervised and controlled hereafter by our depart- 
ment of Reference and Research. When our Board 
of Superintendents supplied the teachers with a 
handwriting scale, they took an important first step 
toward improvement in penmanship, but unless 
and until they provide training for teachers in the 
use of the scale, no useful purpose will be served by 
that instrument. 

(2) Inspirational supervision alone is inadequate 
to solve our penmanship troubles. There are two 
types of schools and classes that render this kind of 
supervision futile, namely: 

(a) Those who refuse to cooperate. They may 
or may not be able to produce satisfactory results. 


In any case, they won't try. Such cases are rare 
in my experience. My people have been most 
loyal and helpful in their attitude. The conceited 
principal or teacher thinks he knows how to run 
his own school or class and needs no outsider to 
tell him how. He may be an excellent writer him- 
self, and so he forgets that playing golf and teaching 
another to play are two totally different processes, 
He takes John Adams literally, who says that "all 
a teacher needs is a knowledge of his subject and a 
sense of humor!" 

(b) Those who are willing but incapable. They 
are perfectly docile and try to follow your sugges- 
tions. But somehow they lack the power to get 
results. They need some one who will take the 
class and show exactly how the trick is done. 

(3) An attitude of complacency. A third reason 
why we need a technical supervisor is that many 
teachers do not realize how poor their penmanship 
is. They are self-satisfied and imagine that the 
writing is good enough. In a recent article (59), 
Mr. J. B. Shouse says that the "attitude of com- 
placence'' is one of the obstacles to good hand- 
writing. During his investigation he found many 
writers "who declined to admit the imputation " 
that the writing was poor. He says further that 
"in the matter of the quality of handwriting, care- 
lessness is the normal attitude." This is because a 


" person's handwriting is nearly always legible to 
himself/' and "one is not always a reliable critic of 
one's own performance/' and writers "are not suffi- 
ciently aware of the detailed defects of their own 
handwriting." To the attitude of complacence may 
also be added a shadow of the green-eyed monster. 
If you doubt this bring an exhibit of superior pen- 
manship to a conference of principals. Some will 
not deign even to glance at the specimens. A few 
will examine them with more or less care. None 
will ask for permission to take them home to be 
used as models for their own teachers. 

(4) The difficulty of breaking up old habits. Mr. 
Shouse suggests a fourth explanation of the mea- 
ger results in the improvement of handwriting. 
" To modify a habit requires attention, but the habit 
may be exercised without particular attention to 
the act"; and furthermore, the "modification of a 
habit in the direction of improvement is more diffi- 
cult than the formation of a habit." The purpose 
of all writing instruction, after a pupil knows the 
forms of the letters, is the improvement of hand- 
writing habits. But the demand for a large amount 
of written work wherein writing is used as a tool 
tends to nullify the teacher's efforts to obtain im- 
provement. The formal writing drills are always 
better than the applied writing found in spelling, 
dictation, composition exercises, and notebooks. 


Significance of the Principal's Attitude. St. Louis has 
one supervisor of penmanship and seven assistants. 
If New York were as well supplied with writing 
supervisors as St. Louis is, we should have a head 
supervisor with fifty-seven assistants ! There would 
be two experts for each district superintendent and 
nine additional ones for special assignment. 

In the St. Louis Survey a study was made of the 
relation of the principal's attitude toward penman- 
ship and the achievements of his school in the sub- 
ject. Principals were classed by the supervisors as 
"favorable," "passive," or "antagonistic." The 
outcome of the study is inconclusive. A group of 
schools whose principals were classed as passive or 
antagonistic to the supervisors had better penman- 
ship than another group whose principals were said 
to be favorable. Perhaps it would be just to say 
that some supervisors were able to get results in 
spite of the principal. 

But where there are no expert supervisors and the 
results in handwriting depend entirely upon the 
principal, his attitude is all important. If he is 
indifferent or incompetent, penmanship, like other 
subjects, will languish. The following quotation, 
whose authorship I have forgotten, emphasizes the 
fact that writing systems cannot teach themselves: 

So long as there are principals and teachers who are unwilling 
to assume their obvious duty in connection with the teaching 'oi 


practical handwriting, there will continue to be new, untried 
systems of penmanship, which will be offered by their "authors, 
publishers, and agents as panaceas for all the chirographic ills of 
the present and future generations. All of the new systems of 
penmanship, whether they contain a modicum of good, or are 
wholly bad, will find eager apostles, who are still seeking that 
intangible something in a penmanship system which will teach 
itself and relieve teachers from the responsibility of learning how 
to teach practical handwriting. This feverish anxiety to avoid 
personal responsibility in connection with the teaching of pen- 
manship reminds us of an old and almost forgotten hymn, one 
verse of which runs about as follows: 

As when a raging fever burns 

We change from side to side by turns, 

It is but poor relief we gain 

To change the place and keep the pain. 

The Course of Study- Only a few of the cities re- 
porting mention a course of study in handwriting. 
Trenton has just adopted one. New York has a 
complete course of study and syllabus, as well as 
an official scale, standardized letter forms, and 
grade achievement norms. Eight of the cities use 
the Zaner system, which takes the place of a course 
of study, and six employ the Palmer system. Most 
of the other cities send! out periodic instructions 
which teachers follow; in lieu of a printed syllabus. 
One gets the impression that writing has been a 
sort of Cinderella among the sisterhood of studies, 
receiving scant and reluctant attention only when 
it threatened to bring scandal upon the family. 


If this silence concerning a course of study in 
handwriting means that the average American 
community has no definite curriculum in penman- 
ship, then we have one sufficient reason for the un- 
satisfactory results in school writing. In penman- 
ship, as in other arts, there should be grading from 
the simple to the more complex forms and drills, 
with provision for systematic review and applica- 
tion. In New York we have not only a syllabus, 
but in the writer's district, we have a complete set 
of writing plans made by a committee of principals 
and teachers, covering the sixteen grades, each plan 
containing eighteen graded lessons, and each lesson- 
whole containing a week's work, which may be 
divided into three, four, or five lessons. 

The weekly plan is a sort of project with a definite 
aim and graded steps leading to a concrete achieve- 
ment. For instance, the first week of Grade 2A 
begins with a drill on capital M. This is followed 
by a drill on ary. The synthesis of the two gives 
us Mary for the next task. Then the two words 
has and doll receive attention, after which comes 
the final achievement, Mary has a doll. The sixth 
week of Grade 5A opens with one line of push-pull 
and one line of ovals. This is followed by alternate 
ovals and capital T's; then a line of T*$; then alter- 
nate ovals and F's; then P's; two lines of h's; two 
of oval and ench; oval and C, Canada; oval and 


tiled; and the final sentence repeated: The French 
settled Canada. 

On the cover of each plan we give the syllabus 
requirement for the grade and the grade stand- 
ards; e.g.: 


Penmanship Plan 
18 Weeks 

Muscular movement applied in Drill on straight line and ovals. 
Review of capitals and small letters. Much sentence practice. 
Drill on figures. 

Grade Standards 

Form 47 

Movement 48 

Spacing. 51 

Speed 59 

CNew York Penmanship Scale) 

The district writing plans embody the writer's 
own theory of penmanship and were worked out 
under his direction by experienced teachers and 
supervisors of the subject. At the time the plans 
were made none of the committee were familiar 
with the innovations of Houston and Mills, nor had 
Professor Freeman yet published the following 
extract (The Elementary School Journal, Septem- 
ber, 1923): 

Modern progressive instruction in handwriting departs -widely 
from the older type of instruction in the character of the drill 


which is given. A large share of the time of the pupil used to be 
spent, and is still spent in many cases, on exercises which are 
preliminary to writing. Instead of actually writing, the pupil 
spends his time in a kind of setting-up exercise. It is as though 
a person in training to be a carpenter should spend his time in 
calisthenics. We are familiar with the ovals and push-and-pull 
exercises which sometimes occupy a large share of the writing 
period. . . . The greater part of the practice in handwriting 
should be spent on actual writing. There are at least two im- 
portant reasons why practice should be, for the most part, on 
letters and words: 

(a) If the practice is on letters, the pupil is learning to make 
the same kind of movement which he is required to make in all 
his writing. If the practice is on simplified forms, on the other 
hand, the pupil is almost sure to develop a kind of movement 
which he does not use in his ordinary writing. . . . 

(b) The second reason why purely formal drill should be 
reduced to a minimum is that writing is primarily a means of 
communication or expression of thought. If the pupil spends 
an unusually large amount of time on purely mechanical exer- 
cises, the mechanics of the writing are likely to obtrude them- 
selves too strongly on his mind, even when he is writing wholly 
for the purpose of communicating thought. 

Motivation. The term motivation is not new. It 
is older than any of the modern theories of interest, 
but its present educational connotation has been 
acquired quite recently. Professor McMurry's use 
of it in the New York School Inquiry has had con- 
siderable influence in giving the term its present 
status in educational history. 

The significance of motivation is best appreci- 


ated by a brief historical consideration of interest. 
Such a review would show a progressive develop- 
ment of the idea. From Pestalozzi we learned that 
sense perception is the basis of elementary instruc- 
tion, and hence "object lessons " came into vogue. 
We soon discovered, however, that object lessons 
might become very tedious to children, and pres- 
ently this form of teaching was superseded by a 
new fashion* Then came Herbart with his interest 
and apperception, and later Dewey with his self- 
expression, and later still the schoolman of today 
with his motivation and the project 

The essence of all modern theories of interest is 
that it is the result of knowledge or activity. Some 
educators look upon interest as a means of securing 
attention, "hoping that the knowledge will remain 
after interest has departed"; but the Herbartians 
taught us that it is the business of education to 
incite an interest that will abide after the knowledge 
has passed away. Thus we speak when we refer 
tp subjects like literature, science, geography, or 
history. But penmanship is not a subject; it is an 
art, a mere tool of education, without intrinsic 
thought. It does not fully function until it is 
automatic; that is, until it has been turned over to 
the nerve centers. There is therefore small chance 
of a permanent interest in penmanship as such. 

What we mean by motivating penmanship, there- 


fore, amounts generally to the employment of tem- 
porary devices to entice children to practice drills 
which are in themselves, like dishwashing, un- 
interesting. In other words, we employ indirect 
rather than direct interest. The following forms 
of this sort of motivation are reported by the 
various supervisors who answered my questionnaire: 

1. Competition: Divide the class into two teams, and play 
one against the other, selected pupils acting as leaders. Or 
play school against school in the same district. 

2. Tests by standard scales, the object being to attain the 
grade scale. 

3. Certificates of merit issued by the supervisor or principal. 
Two cities employ this device extensively. 

4. Gummed stars attached to meritorious papers. 

5. Buttons, badges, etc. 

6. Honor RoUs in classroom. 

7. Excuse pupil from formal drills as soon as he has achieved 
his grade standard. But measure Ms writing frequently, and 
if he backslides, put him back on the treadmill! 

8. The joy of achievement. This is direct interest and real 
motivation. It accompanies all successful effort. With the 
best kind of teacher it is all the incentive needed. 

The most skilful writing teacher in my district 
employs no adventitious aids of any kind, and the 
children are always eager for the writing lesson. 
But such teachers of penmanship are so rare that It 
is idle to expect all to employ only the highest 
incentives. To secure adequate results from the 


average teacher we must make concessions to 
human nature as we find it and permit her to use 
any devices that serve to keep children at their 
drill until they reach the stage of automatism. 

To this list may be added exemption from special 
supervision of any school that has attained grade 
standards in every class. It is conceivable that a 
staff of supervisors might be so efficient that they 
would lose their jobs ! 

Training the Teachers. Ten cities report normal 
classes conducted by the supervisor. Pour have 
general conferences from time to time where in- 
struction and criticism are offered. Three super- 
visors, after spending a day in school, have a con- 
ference with the staff after dismissal for the discus- 
sion of the day's findings. Four supervisors give 
tests in every room and then furnish each teacher 
with graphs to show the attainment of the class as 
a whole and of individual pupils. Three cities have 
grade meetings. Four provide penmanship in- 
struction in the training school for teachers and 
require all graduates to qualify in the subject. 
Many cities send outlines at stated intervals, giving 
definite instruction to teachers. Others have group 
conferences, arrange exhibits, or use motion pic- 
tures. In two cases all teachers must qualify ac- 
cording to a specific scale in order to secure and hold 
their positions. In one city a trained scorer is 


provided in each school to show other teachers and 
the children how to use the scale. 

1. Who gives the lesson ? When a supervisor visits 
a teacher in the classroom, what form of supervi- 
sion does he give? In ten of the cities he gives a dem- 
onstration lesson while the teacher observes what 
he does. In three cases the teacher gives the lesson 
and the supervisor observes. Some of the super- 
visors have so many teachers to visit that the 
demonstration lesson is impossible. These there- 
fore examine the written products, observe the 
children and teachers at work, make comments, 
and depart. Others, who have more time, spend an 
entire writing period in the room and do all the work. 

2. Query: Which is the better plan? 

If we accept the old Lacedemonian's dictum that 
the chief business of the teacher is to make himself 
useless, 1 then the majority of supervisors reporting 
are wrong. They do too much for the teachers. A 
class in physical training is not going to get much 
physical development by watching the teacher go 
through the exercises. Neither is there much 
nourishment in seeing other people eat. It seems 
to the writer that those supervisors have the sound- 
est pedagogy who let the teacher do the work, for 
skill in any art comes by practice, practice, practice. 
Occasionally a demonstration lesson is very useful 

1 The theory and practice of the Dalton Plan of education are a literal 
application of this principle. 


even as a concert by Paderewski is of inestimable 
value to the student of the piano. But observation 
is but a supplement of practice, not a substitute 
for it. 

Special teachers of drawing, music, and physical 
training in New York plan the work for the teach- 
ers, interpret the syllabus, visit the classes, observe 
the teachers at work, evaluate the results of in- 
struction, but give the lesson only occasionally for 
beginners and unsuccessful teachers. Writing su- 
pervisors, if we had any, would doubtless follow a 
similar procedure. In this way the teacher gets 
development as well as the children. Spoon feed- 
ing is necessary for infants, but is not desirable for 
adults unless they are sick. 

Movement Drills. Two supervisors, as we have 
already seen (p. 32), in cities remote from each 
other, have come independently to the conclusion 
that time is wasted by the customary oval and 
straight-line movement drills. Mr. Harry Hous- 
ton, of New Haven, has developed a system of 
writing which employs none of these drills. Arm 
movement is secured by writing letters an inch or 
more in height, and then gradually grading the 
writing down to the normal size. Of the usual 
movement drills Mr. Houston has this to say: 

This method was started in business colleges or in special 
penmanship schools. The students were adults who were pur- 


suing but two or three subjects. Much, time was given to prac- 
tice. These methods have been handed down and put into the 
grades where the conditions are radically different. The stu- 
dents are children instead of adults. The curriculum has in- 
creased to such an extent that only a comparatively small 
amount of time is possible for penmanship instruction. 

In like vein writes Mr. E. C. Mills, of Rochester: 

I have completely eliminated the oval and push-and-pufl 
practice in the teaching of handwriting and develop all move- 
ment in letter formation. 

When Mr. Houston called upon the writer in 
New York, he had with him an exhibit of handwrit- 
ing done under the conditions described above. It 
was very legible and beautiful writing. He claims 
that in modern life, with the prevalent use of the 
typewriter, speed in writing is far less significant 
than legibility. In the author's survey of his dis- 
trict it was found that the standard for speed was 
exceeded in every grade but the highest three, while 
in form all the grades but two were on an average 
below standard. This indicates that the schools 
of the district taken together attain speed at the 
expense of form. What we need is more attention 
to legibility. No effort has been made to develop 
speed. It is apparently the natural result of the 
great amount of applied writing children have to 
do in the schools of today. 

These two supervisors may, of course, be simply 


illustrations of the law that under a good teacher 
children learn in spite of his method. It is easy to 
show that the A-B-C method of teaching reading 
is contrary to every known law of learning. Yet 
the writer managed somehow to learn to read by 
that method, or in spite of it, and so did millions 
more of his and preceding generations. 

Some of the objections to the excessive movement 
drills, as voiced by teachers and parents, may be 
summarized thus: 

1. The writing has no individuality, all the chil- 
dren write alike. 

2* Time is wasted. 

3. Children taught in this way produce writing 
as illegible as that of copy-book writers of a genera- 
tion ago. 

4. Teachers break down from overstrain. 

5. Half the teachers are opposed to the system. 

6. Mr. C. E. Doner, director of penmanship in 
the three State Normal Schools of Bridgewater, 
Framingham, and Salem, Mass., says: 1 

I think that some advocates of muscular movement systems 
have shot over the heads of the children, especially in the lower 
grades. They have introduced business college methods of 
teaching penmanship into the graded schools, without taking 
into account a well-graded course of study and practice which 
safeguards the interests of the child, rather sacrificing the child 
to make a success of some method of writing, 

tltfiGm Boston Trawler, Dec. 19, 1922, 


The " grind" on movement drills which the children have to 
go through doesn't warrant the expenditure of time put upon 
them to learn to write. Much valuable school time is wasted 
in the practice of meaningless drills which have no direct interest 
to children. Why not devote the time to actual writing, thus 
aiding the children to express themselves in plain characters in 
their own language? 

It is the writer's opinion, based on twenty-five 
years of experience in supervision, that there is 
waste of time in abstract drills that lead to no imme- 
diate and definite goal. The writing plans of our 
district minimize mere movement drills and em- 
phasize application to a concrete achievement in 
every lesson-whole. In Mr. Freeman's new book 
(25) there are no oval and push-pull exercises. 

State Manuals. A number of states have issued 
manuals on handwriting, of which those of New 
Jersey, Massachusetts, and Ohio are examples. 

1, The New Jersey Manual (36). This pamphlet 
gives practical directions to teachers on methods of 
teaching penmanship. The following topics, among 
others, are treated: 

(1) Position and penholding are emphasized. 

(2) Movement, ease, and speed are insisted on. 

(3) The treatment of left-handed pupils receives attention. 
Teachers are advised not to require children to change if the 
left-handed writing is good; nor to change when the child is 
twelve years of age, or more. 

^(4) A copy book or copy slip is recommended unless the 
teacher is an expert writer. 


(5) Blackboard work is declared to be essential. 

(6) Beginners should practice on the blackboard. 

(7) The time schedule should provide a daily writing period 
of ten or fifteen minutes and a weekly total of seventy-five 

(8) Blackboard crayons or wax pencils or large soft black 
pencils are recommended for the first year, pen and ink after 

(9) Only the best materials are good enough. 

(10) Ruling should be for base line only in all grades. 

(11) Distance between lines should be as follows: First year, 
1 inch; second year, f of an inch; third year, J inch; after that, 
f of an inch. 

(12) In the seventh and eighth grades children need practice 
on unruled paper since much of the social stationery is without 

(13) It is important to pass and collect material without 
waste of time. 

(14) The teacher should write in the presence of children so 
that they may observe the process. 

(15) The incentives recommended are: 

(a) Personal interest and enthusiasm of the 


(b) Preserving and exhibiting written work. 

(c) Exchanging specimens between class- 


(d) Committees of pupils to decide what chil- 

dren have the best position and writ- 

(16) The writing of exercises in other subjects is the real test 
f success in penmanship. 


2. The Massachusetts Manual (44). The time 
recommended in this book is 75 minutes a week for 
the first two years; 100 minutes for the next four 
years. Certain principles of teaching are empha- 
sized, as follows: 

(1) The teacher has not taught until the pupil has learned. 
^(2) The writing teacher must know as much about writing as 
she does about other subjects in the curriculum, and she must 
devote as much time and skill to the planning of writing exer- 
cises as she does to the planning of other lessons. 

(3) In all instruction involving skill or dexterity, imitation is 
the best means of training. Hence, the teacher must be a good 

(4) In penmanship the teacher must emphasize the process 
rather than the product. Legibility, rapidity, ease are the essen- 
tials. In teaching, maintain this order. 

(5) The teaching of handwriting is successful only when the 
pupil carries over into application what he learns in formal 

3. The Ohio Manual (56). The function of writ- 
ing as defined by this manual is "to express, convey, 
and record language in an intelligible and practical 
manner." The essentials set down are these: 

(1) The writing skill of the teacher in blackboard writing, 
which requires only one third as much practice as good writ- 
ing on paper. 

(2) For three months all the writing of the beginners in the 
first grade should be done on the blackboard, because such 
writing is larger, freer, and less exacting than writing on paper. 


(3) Position is absolutely necessary to correct movement. 
The body should be straight, the paper slant, and the hand 
should slide on the third and fourth fingers. 

(4) Movement and form should go hand in hand from the 
beginning. Each lesson should be introduced by movement 

(5) Form or legibility, uniformity of size, slant, and spacing 
these must be insisted on first. 

(6) Counting for speed exercises is recommended, as follows: 

First grade, 100 ovals per minute 

Second grade, 125 ovals and from 5 to 10 words per 

Third grade, 150 ovals per minute 

Fourth grade, 175 ovals and from 10 to 12 words per 

Fifth and sixth grades, 200 ovals and from 12 to 15 
words per minute 

Seventh and eighth grades, 200 ovals and from 15 to 
20 words per minute 

The average speed of six standards reported by 
Freeman for the eighth grade is 79 letters per 
minute. If we assume that the average number of 
letters in words is four, 20 words is the equivalent 
of 80 letters. 

There are doubtless many more such manuals in 
existence, some better, some worse. They are evi- 
dence that the need of better handwriting is widely 
recognized and that an attempt has been made to 
improve it by state-wide regulation. All such 
are useful, at least potentially; but the key 


to the educational situation is where the teacher 
and the pupil meet. To the child there is no 
course of study except the teacher. The curriculum 
can reach the pupil only as it sifts through her. 
Therefore the real supervision is done in the class- 
room by the principal. 




The Measurement of Handwriting. The use of stand- 
ardized scales for the measurement of handwrit- 
ing is, according to my returns, common practice. 
Four scales were sent to me, and these do not 
include either the Ayres or Thorndike measures. 
One supervisor measures every pupil's work twice 
a year. A second does it three times a year. 
Another applies a monthly test, and still another 
has a scale posted in every room and the pupils are 
taught to measure their own product. In some 
cities the teachers do the measuring, in others the 
principal does it. By common consent, accurate 
measurement is essential to determine progress, to 
give the children and teachers a definite, attainable 
goal, and to supply criteria for intelligent and effec- 
tive supervision. 

1. Unreliability of teachers' marks. Many inves- 
tigations have shown the unreliability of teachers 1 
marks, even in mathematics and spelling, subjects 
in which, one might suppose, there exists small 
chance for variability. In penmanship, it has 
been proved, not only is there great divergence of 



opinion among different teachers concerning a given 
specimen, but a single teacher marking the same 
specimen at different times will assign different 
values to it. 

These statements may be verified by a teacher in 
the following ways (48) : 

(1) Take a set of papers and mark them by per- 
centage or letters, putting the mark on a separate 
score sheet but not on the pupils 7 papers. 

(2) Lay the papers aside for a few days. 

(3) Score the papers a second time without re- 
ferring to the first marks. Record the second scores 
on a second score sheet. 

(4) After three or four days score the papers in 
like manner a third time. 

(5) Compare the three sets of marks. They will 
vary widely in many cases. 

A second test suggested is this : 

(1) Mark the papers of your class. 

(2) Have another teacher mark the same papers 
without referring to your marks. 

(3) Have the papers marked by a third teacher 

(4) Compare the marks given by the three scor- 
ers. The scores of the different teachers will differ 
more or less widely for the same specimen of writing. 

These experiments will make it plain why, on the 


basis of a teacher's judgment, it is impossible to 
compare one class with another, or one school with 
another, or one school system with another. To 
make such a comparison with any degree of fairness 
it is necessary to devise some method of measuring 
penmanship which shall be impersonal and make 
some approach to scientific accuracy. To measure 
with exactitude we must have a defined unit, so 
that the result will be substantially the same no 
matter who does the measuring. A scientific pro- 
cedure must be so minutely and clearly set forth 
that any competent person in any part of the world 
can repeat it and verify or disprove the conclusions 
arrived at. 

2. The pioneer. To Professor Edward L. Thorn- 
dike (67) belongs the credit of having formulated 
the principles underlying the construction of a 
writing scale, and of having actually constructed 
the first scale in accordance with those principles. 
The date of this achievement reminds us of the 
recency of the measurement movement in educa- 
tion. In the brief span of years since 1910 scores 
of scales of all sorts have been devised, and now the 
poor teacher is in danger of being flabbergasted by 
the formidable array of technical instruments that 
are thrust into his hands. 

Dr. Thorndike laid down the rule that a writing 
scale for grades 5 to 8, inclusive, should include 


about ten qualities differing each from the next by 
equal steps (that is, within four per cent of a step 
or one-half per cent of the difference between the 
best and the worst). One would need several thou- 
sand of each kind of sample, each rated by two 
hundred j udges. This means roughly four thousand 
hours of labor. Hence, his scale is confessedly im- 
perfect, as it did not meet the ideal conditions of 
scientific accuracy. It is only a preliminary scale, 
and it measures "general merit" only; namely, 
legibility and regularity. 

3. The Ayres Scale (2). Dr. Ayres constructed 
a scale with eight degrees of quality for grades 2 to 
8, inclusive. The numerical values assigned to 
these degrees of merit are 20, 30, 40, etc., up to 90. 
Each step of the scale is represented by three speci- 
mens; namely, vertical, semi-slant, and full slant. 
A later scale, also a three-slant edition, was devised 
to measure the handwriting of adults. A still later 
scale (1917) called the "Gettysburg Edition," has 
only one specimen for each step, and each specimen 
has the same copy. It furnishes standards for 
speed and quality for all the grades above the 

4. Johnson and Stone Scale (34). This scale is 
similar to those of Ayres and Thorndike, but is more 
analytic. Each specimen of the scale is accom- 
panied by an explanation of its defects, which in- 


elude letter formation, uniformity of slant, align- 
ment, spacing, quality of line, size, and degree of 

5. Breed and Downs Scale (6). This scale was 
made for local use in Highland Park, Michigan, by 
scoring specimens with the Thorndike Scale, and 
then selecting specimens for a five-step scale for 
each grade from 3A to 6A, inclusive. A standard 
for speed is given for each grade. 

6. The Freeman Scale (20). This scale is different 
from all the preceding scales in that it is really five 
scales in one. It measures uniformity of slant, 
uniformity of alignment, quality of line, letter for- 
mation, and spacing. 

7. The New York Scale (46). This scale is the 
work of Mr. Clyde C. Lister and Dr, Garry C. 
Myers, instructors in the Maxwell Training School, 
Brooklyn, New York. Like the Freeman scale, it 
is analytic. It measures form, movement, and 
spacing. Under form are considered letter forma- 
tion, uniformity of size, and correct slant. Move- 
ment includes quality of line, whether heavy, tremu- 
lous, or broken. Under spacing the writing is 
judged as to uniformity of space between letters, 
between parts of letters, and between words. 

The standards were obtained by examining over 
twelve thousand specimens, from grades 4B to 8B, 
Written by children of New York public schools. 



The grade standards of the New York Penman- 
ship Scale are as follows: 






per Minute) 






8. Gray's Score Card. 1 One of the most useful 
devices for diagnostic measurement of handwriting 
is Gray's Score Card, which is herewith presented. 
Some of the scales measure general quality only, 
but do not reveal the particular defects which render 
the writing unsatisfactory. It is a sound principle 
of teaching that a child should surmount one diffi- 
culty at a time. And when he is told that his writ- 
ing is poor, he is entitled to know just in what 
respects he has failed. Also the teacher, in pre- 
scribing remedies, must know in detail what factors 
of the complex writing process need stressing. The 

1 Devise4 by C. Truman Gray. 


Gray card gives all this necessary information. It 
also weighs the various items according to their 
relative importance. Thus, the formation of letters 
receives twenty-six credits out of a hundred. 

Thus spacing of letters is worth 18 points, neat- 
ness 13, spacing of words 11, spacing of lines 9, 
alignment 8, size 7, slant 5, and heaviness of line 3. 

Mr. Horace G. Healey (30), in an address on 
"Penmanship in the High Schools/ 7 expresses the 
opinion that penmanship is a proper and necessary 
high school subject, for the reason that the ele- 
mentary school pupil is too immature mentally and 
physiologically to establish life habits, and for the 
additional reason that there is not time enough in 
the grades to do the job well. 1 

The high school writing teacher, he thinks, should 
do more individual work than the elementary 
teacher. He should find out each pupil's needs 
and then prescribe the proper exercises to meet 
those needs. The Gray Score Card is the instru- 
ment needed for this procedure. 

9. Classification of scales according to use. It is 
evident from the brief descriptions given of the 
several scales that they fall into two general classes. 
The Thorndike, Ayres, Johnson-Stone, and Breed- 
Downs scales are used to measure the quality of 
writing in general. These axe useful for making 




1. Heaviness 3 

2. Slant 5 


3. Size 7 

Too large 
Too small 

4. Alignment 8 

5. Spacing of lines 9 

Too close 
Too far apart 

6. Spacing of words 11 

Too close 
Too far apart 

7. Spacing of letters 18 

Too close 
Too far apart 

8. Neatness 13 


9. Formation of letters.' 26 

General form 8 

Smoothness. , 6 

Letters not closed. 5 < 

Parts omitted 5 

Parts added 2 


surveys of school systems for the purposes of deter- 
mining the gross merit of handwriting. The Free- 
man Scale and the New York Scale and the Gray 
Score Card are necessary when detailed information 
is wanted to assist the teacher in adapting his in- 
struction to the needs of individuals. 

10. Relative value of scales. It is not easy to say 
which of these scales is most reliable. As we have 
pointed out, different scales are useful for different 
things. If you wish to analyze in detail the merit 
of a pupil's handwriting, you will use Freeman's 
Scale, or Gray's Score Card, or both, or the New 
York Scale. If you desire merely a measure of the 
general or total achievement in handwriting, you 
employ a scale like that of Ayres or Thorndike. 
Several studies have been made to determine which 
of the scales is morejreliable. Dr. R. Pintner (53) 
thinks Thorndike's is better than that of Ayres, 
while Starch finds them of equal merit, and Freeman 
believes Ayres to be superior to Thorndike. When 
doctors disagree how is a layman to decide? Per- 
haps this statement is the real answer : Each is best 
for its own purpose. 

11. What is a reasonable standard? The grade 
standards of the various scales are the median per- 
formances of present-day school children in certain 
communities. Are these proper standards? The 



New York Scale is based upon achievements of New 
York children. As penmanship on the average is 
not of a very high grade, it is fair to ask whether 
this standard is not too low. In my district survey 
I found a 4B class that had attained an 8B standard 
in form. This shows how much better our writing 
might be if we had expert teachers. As the general 
level of penmanship teaching improves, the median 
performance will rise; hence it would seem that the 
grade standards ought from time to time to be re- 
vised in accordance with these changes. 

Different scales unfortunately have different units 
of measurement and different numerical values to 
represent the grade of attainment. It is therefore 
not easy to reduce the several scales to a common 
denominator for purposes of comparison. Such a 
reduction, however, has been made by Monroe (45) 
and others, and is given here: 

School Grades 

































In the following table certain median scores are 
compared with the Freeman Standards: 

School Grades 













Iowa Schools 
















Fifty-six Cities 








[Freeman's Stand- 








In the following table certain median scores in 
quality are compared with Freeman's Standards 
(on the Ayres Scale) : 

School Grades 





























Fifty-six Cities 








Ireeman's Stand- 









12. The final standard. The question has been 
raised whether it would be possible to achieve the 
present eighth-year standard two years earlier, so 
that the formal writing lessons might cease at the 
end of the sixth year. In fact, one superintendent 
made the statement some years ago to the writer 
that children should not be obliged to practice hand- 
writing after the fifth year. This was at a time 
when penmanship in New York was probably the 
worst in the world ! It was before any of the experi- 
mental studies of handwriting with which we are 
now familiar had been made. It was therefore mere 
opinion, based on neither experiment nor classroom 

Nutt's researches indicate that arm movement 
should not be stressed before the age of nine or ten 
(Prop. 16, p. 62). If penmanship lessons were to 
cease at the end of the sixth year, the pupil would 
have only two years in which to acquire the desired 
movement. It is self-evident that he could not 
form a life habit in so brief a time. The settled 
stage of handwriting does not occur before the high 
school period, and perhaps not even then. The 
mind and the muscles of a twelve-year-old child are 
immature and plastic. It is more than probable 
that if writing lessons were discontinued after grade 
six, even a good writer would lapse into bad hab- 
its and become a scribbler, while the poor writers 


would certainly go to high school with an illegible 
scrawl. When teachers of penmanship become a 
hundred per cent efficient, it will be time enough 
to try the experiment of eliminating the subject 
after the sixth year. In the meantime we are not, 
on the average, completing the job in eight years, 
as one may readily prove by taking handwriting 
specimens of the pupils who enter high school. 



In the spring of 1922 the author invited the 
Bureau of Reference, Research, and Statistics, of 
which Mr. Eugene A, Nifenecker is the Director, to 
conduct a survey of the penmanship of pupils in 
school districts 1 and 7. Inasmuch as the bureau 
had at its command no adequate force for the test- 
ing involved, it was decided to make the survey a 
cooperative project. The bureau directed the con- 
duct of the tests, trained the teachers volunteering 
to act as scorers, and tabulated the results. The 
principals, through selected teachers, conducted 
the tests, and the scoring of the papers was done 
by the teachers volunteering to act in that capacity. 

The report which follows describes the procedure 
adopted and presents briefly the results obtained. 

1. Scope of tests. Samples of handwriting were 
obtained from all of the pupils of grades 4B to SB, 
inclusive, in the twenty-five schools of the two dis- 
tricts. Table 1 shows by grades the number of 
pupils and classes involved in the test. 

The samples were scored for Rate of Writing and 
for Form. The other elements of quality, such as 
Movement and Spacing, were not considered/ 




Number of Pupils and Classes by Grades Involved in Penmanship 
Survey (25 Schools) 














No. of 













No. of 













2. Character of tests. The test consisted in having 
the pupils write repeatedly for two minutes the fol- 
lowing sentence: "One must exercise in work and 
in play." The sentence had been learned before 
the day of the test and attention had been given to 
the word exercise, the only word in the sentence that 
might have offered spelling difficulty to some of the 

3. General district results. The general results 
obtained for the districts as a whole are presented 
in Figure 1, which shows by grades the distribution 
of scores in Form for the 15,000 pupils tested. 
Figure 2 gives similar data for Rate of Writing. 

(1) Results in form. The quality of writing, it 
appears, increases more or less regularly. From 
Figure 1 we may note the development upward 
through the grades. The curve rises upward from 
4B to 5A 3 drops slightly in 5B, rises in grades 6A 
and 6B, drops in 7A, rises again in 7B, drops slightly 
in 8A, and reaches 62.4 in grade 8B. The amount 
of improvement from grades 4B to 8B is slight, from 



























46 to 62, or 16 points, less than two steps on the 

The standards for Form recently adopted by the 
Board of Superintendents in the new syllabus in 
penmanship are shown by the solid line in Figure 1. 
Comparison of the general district medians with 
such grade norms shows that with the exception of 
grades 4B and 5A all grades are somewhat below 
the standard. The difference is greatest in the 8A 
and least in the 5B. 

A prominent characteristic of the grade distribu- 
tion is the wide range of scores in each grade. 
Pupils of all levels of ability are found in almost 
every grade. The variability in achievement re- 
sults in marked overlapping of grades. The first 
quartile or 25 percentile is that point in the dis- 
tribution below which fall 25% of the cases, while 
the third quartile or 75 percentile is that point on 
the distribution above which are 25% of the cases 
and below which are 75% of the scores. Between 
the first and third quartile lie 50% of the cases. If 
we find the difference between the two quartiles 
and divide by two we obtain what is statistically 
known as the semi-interquartile range, or Q. This 
is used as a measure of the variability of a distribu- 
tion. From the table it appears that Q in each 
grade is from 7 to 10 points, a range that exceeds 
considerably the difference between grade medians. 


















l l 

















In most grades the range of the middle 50% is 
greater than the difference between the median of 
the 4B and the median of the 8B. 

(2) Rate of writing. Figure 2 presents a distri- 
bution of the pupils of each grade according to the 
rate of writing in terms of number of letters per 

From the figure it appears that the rate of writing 
increases quite regularly from 4B to 7 A. The 7B 
and 8A show but slight increase and the 8B is the 
same as that of the 8A grade. In all grades but 
the highest three the grade median is slightly above 
the grade standard. In the 7B it is three letters 
below, in the 8A, six letters, and in the 8B, eleven 
letters below the norm. 

The detailed distributions show almost as great 
a variability of achievement within the same grade 
as was noted in Form, and the overlapping of grades 
is as characteristic. 

4, Summary of conclusions: 

(1) When the results from all schools are com- 
bined it appears that the quality of the pupils 7 hand- 
writing in all grades, with the exception of the 4B 
and 5A, is below standard. 

(2) From grades 4B and 5A, which are standard 
in form, there is a slight improvement through the 
grades to 8B. The total increase in form from 4B 
to SB is less than two steps on the scale. 


(3) When the results for all the schools are com- 
bined it appears that the rate of pupils' writing in 
all grades is above standard except in grades 7B, 
8 A, and SB. The rate in 8B is considerably below 
the grade standard. 

(4) When the results by schools are considered it 
is seen that there are wide differences in the attain- 
ments of pupils in the same grades in different 
schools. All levels of ability are represented in 
each grade. In one school the 4B pupils write with 
8B ability and in another school the 8B grade fails 
to equal the 4B standard. 

(5) Out of 413 classes in grades 4B to 8B, 

56 classes show standard attainment in form. 

59 classes are 1 grade below standard. 

56 classes are 2 grades below standard. 

35 classes are 3 grades below standard. 

32 classes are 4 grades below standard. 

24 classes are 5 grades below standard. 

17 classes are 6 grades below standard. 

16 classes are 7 grades and more below standard, 

46 classes are 1 grade above standard. 
26 classes are 2 grades above standard. 
24 classes are 3 grades above standard. 
11 classes are 4 grades above standard. 

6 classes are 5 grades above standard. 

5 classes are 6 or more grades above standard. 


(6) In rate 

83 classes show standard rates. 
73 classes are 1 grade below standard. 
53 classes are 2 grades below standard. 
26 classes are 3 grades below standard. 
18 classes are 4 grades below standard. 
7 classes are 5 grades below standard. 
18 classes are 6 or more grades below standard. 

50 classes are 1 grade above standard. 
32 classes are 2 grades above standard. 
24 classes are 3 grades above standard. 
14 classes are 4 grades above standard. 

9 classes are 5 grades above standard. 

4 classes are 6 or more grades above standard. 

(7) The progress in most of the schools from 
grade to grade is more or less irregular, in some 
quite erratic, showing a varying emphasis and atten- 
tion upon speed and form. 

(8) The variability in the results of the same 
grades in different schools and of classes in the same 
grade within the same school indicates a lack of 
control over the product of instruction, such as 
comes from the use of grade standards. 

(9) It appears from information given by the 
teachers who acted as scorers that, while most of 
the teachers knew of the existence of the New York 
Penmanship Scale, and while many had in their 
classroom copies of the scale, only a small propor- 
tion indicated that they used the scale regularly for 


measurement purposes. Although some of the 
teachers had received for practice purposes the 
standardized material prepared and distributed by 
our bureau, many teachers had not received such 
material and had not been aware of its availability. 

(10) An effort should be made in each school to 
control the product of the penmanship instruction 
by substituting the grade standards as set up in the 
syllabus for the varying standards of the individual 
teacher. Such grade standards should be regarded 
as goals for each grade and an effort should be made 
to bring up to standard those pupils who are now 

5. Object of the tests. The writer had been for 
twenty years trying to improve the handwriting of 
children without satisfactory results. The methods 
he had employed were the annual examination, 
evaluation, and criticism of the penmanship in each 
classroom of his district (about one thousand) by 
ordinary observation and judgment. This method 
is necessarily faulty, as it is impossible for a super- 
visor to carry in his head appropriate standards for 
sixteen school grades. He cannot, with any confi- 
dence, assert by such a procedure that the writing 
in a certain grade or school is or is not satisfactory. 
All he can say positively is that the writing seems 
poor or good or seems to be better or worse than 
that of other schools or classes. If a principal or 


teacher disputes the assertion, there is no way to 
silence the objector except by the arbitrary au- 
thority of the supervisor, and that is not a satis- 
factory substitute for facts. 

When the Board of Superintendents adopted uni- 
form letter forms and gave us the New York Pen- 
manship Scale with grade standards, we had at our 
command the instrument for finding out what is the 
matter with our penmanship. The first step in our 
attempt to improve the writing of children is mani- 
festly a survey. When you send for a physician the 
first thing he does is to make a diagnosis of your 
case. He employs instruments of exact measure- 
ment. He measures, to a tenth of a degree, your 
temperature. He counts your pulse beats. The 
stethoscope carries to his ear the sounds made by 
the organs of the chest. He may count the red 
corpuscles of your blood, or make a chemical analy- 
sis of your secretions. He must know what is the 
matter with you before he undertakes to cure you. 
We employed the methods of the physician and 
found out exactly Who is Who and What is What. 

When the returns came in, we understood what 
John Bunyan means in the following quotation, 
which is a condensed passage from his Heavenly 

There is no man that goeth to heaven but he must go by 


the cross . . Thou mayest know the cross by these six 

(1) The doctrine of justification: A man is forced to 
suffer the destruction of his own righteousness; 

(2) The doctrine of mortification: Is it nothing for 
a man to lay hands on his vile opinions? 

(3) The doctrine of perseverance: Which is not only 
to begin but for to hold out; 

(4) In self-denial: We that are strong ought to bear 
the infirmities of the weak; 

(5) In patience: Some men, when they come to the 
cross can go no farther, but back again to their sins 
they must go; 

(6) Communion with poor saints: To give is a sel- 
dom work, especially to give to the poor. 

We now knew that in many instances our 
righteousness was as filthy rags. We had supposed 
that our writing was "good enough" or as "good 
as in other schools.' 7 But here were the hideous 
facts! While some classes were from one to eight 
grades above the standard a still greater number 
were from one to nine grades below standard. This 
was indeed a laying of hands on our vile opinions. 
But announcement was made that a year hence a 
second survey would be made, and all who were 
below standard were exhorted to begin the work of 
improvement forthwith and to persevere until they 
should win the prize. Supervisors were asked to 
practice self-denial and patience, to give up their 


ease in Zion, and to minister continually to the poor 

6. Remedial measures. The writer sent the re- 
sults of the survey to the several schools and 
announced the program for the improvement of 
handwriting. Following is an outline of this pro- 

(1) Objective standard. The value of an ob- 
jective standard is eloquently set forth by these 
results. It is evident that I have been much too 
generous in estimating the merit of writing in a 
number of schools. I have called it satisfactory 
where it is very far from satisfactory. There is one 
school in which only two grades rise above the level 
of the 4B standard. The tendency of a supervisor, 
in estimating writing, drawing, and composition, is 
to take the general level of the school as the standard 
and then rate individual performances by that scale. 

Now that we have an objective measure, we must 
face the facts and proceed to work up to the stand- 
ard where we fall short of it. The only way to do 
that is to substitute the grade standards set up in 
the Syllabus for the varying students of individual 
teachers and supervisors. 

Fortunately this is now possible- There are in 
each school one or more trained scorers who assisted 
Mr. Nifenecker. I suggest that conferences be 
arranged and that these expert scorers train the 


rest of the teachers in scoring as they themselves 
were trained. Then every teacher in the school 
should score the writing of her pupils at least once 
a month. And the supervisors should take the 
scores at the beginning and the end of the term to 
determine the progress of the class and the success of 
the teaching. I advise that efforts be concentrated 
upon the grades that are below standard. I intend 
later in the year, if possible, to make another sur- 
vey of the schools and grades that are below stand- 
ard to find out whether any improvement has been 
made. There are eight schools that have no grades 
below standard. These will continue in their ac- 
customed way. Several others have only a few 
low spots to level up. But about half the schools 
will have to start a very earnest campaign to im- 
prove their writing. 
(2) A definite and attainable goal: 

(a) One of the first considerations in any project 
is the setting up of a definite and attainable goal. 
In the present situation of penmanship we have such 
a goal. Now let us gird up our loins and "go to it" ! 

(b) So far as I can see, teachers in all the schools 
have about the same average writing ability and 
teaching ability. We are thus driven to the con- 
clusion that the vast differences in results of pen- 
manship and other studies are due chiefly to differ- 
ences in supervision. 


(c) In many classes the drills are fairly well done 
but the excellence does not carry over into the other 
written work, which is scribbled. This is one 
point of attack by supervisors. 

(d) About one teacher in twenty will say before 
a spelling test: " Writing position." As position 
is a fundamental in good writing, here is another 
point of attack. 

(e) In numerous classes the children do not fill 
up the spaces in their drill papers, thus missing the 
swing which secures the proper movement habit. 
Another point of attack. 

(f) In the schools that have made good in pen- 
manship, the supervisors carefully point out the 
errors of individual children and commend success- 
ful children by name. Stamping one's signature 
on a package of drill papers will not get results. 

(g) The sum of little things makes big tilings. 
Excellence as a whole is never attained without 
excellence in detail. We are not teaching masses, 
but individuals, even when we are engaged in mass 
teaching. Just as concert work fails to secure effi- 
ciency of individuals in reciting poetry, so one can- 
not successfully teach writing by sitting at a desk. 
Each child is a problem that requires individual 

(h) Have you tried the monitorial plan? A child 
very proficient in penmanship shows a poor writer 


how to do it. Have you had a conference on pen- 
manship devices? Come, brethren, let us reason 
together. Some have done this thing. Let the 
rest of us determine that we can do it too. I am 
convinced that all can reach the standard because 
many of the schools that are not quite successful in 
writing do beautiful work in other subjects. 

(3) Devices. Several months later every school 
was asked to report methods and devices employed 
for the improvement of handwriting. These were 
summarized and circulated in the district. Here is 
a partial list of them. The figures at the end of a 
paragraph indicate the number of schools reporting 
that device. 

1. Insist on correct posture and movement in all writing (5). 

2. Use the blackboard to teach the letter forms (2). 

3. The children "write frequently on the board to develop 
swing (1). 

4. The pupil carries something (a penny) on the back of his 
hand to prevent excessive pronation (3). 

5. The teacher corrects each writing drill daily in red ink (2). 

6. Never give writing for punishment (1). 

7* The use of a handwriting scale for comparison and measure- 
ment (17). 

8. Personal commendation of teachers and pupils who do 
well (4). 

9. Game and story of five pigs for sliding on nails (1), 

10. Counting for rhythm (6). 

11. Repeating jingle for drills (4). 

12. Mr. Bartow, of the Palmer Company, helps (3). 


13. Place a cylindrical pencil under the forearm. When the 
movement is correct, pencil keeps rolling (1). 

14. Sliding the paper to the left for slant and position (2). 

15. Sliding paper upward as in typewriter for the position (1). 

16. Don't get ink into the pen's eye (not too much ink) (1). 

17. Writing in the air (1). 

18. Tracing for poor writers (1). 

19. The teacher guides the hand of poor writer (1). 

20. Name card kept on desk at all times (2). 

21. Descriptive words used as cues (1). 

22. Papers starred for excellence (1). 

23. Class errors corrected on board (2). 

24. Stress one thing each week (1). 

25. The teacher places red check on paper for correct posture 
and movement (2). 

26. Draw lines through one line of writing to test uniformity 
of slant (1). 

27. Group writers according to proficiency (1). 

28. Allow poor writers to pass around the room to select the 
best papers (1), 

29. Have a poor writer sit next to a good one (1). 

30. Honor Roll (4). 

31. Pupils compare first and last papers of each month (2). 

32. "Before and after" exhibit, placing each child's first paper 
alongside of his latest (2). 

33. Extra credits for penmanship given on spelling, compo- 
sition, and other written work (1). 

34. Encourage self-criticism with scale (3). 

35. The pupils keep their own scores and mark improve- 
ment (1). 

36. "Skating game" for light touch. The paper is an ice 
pond, the pen is the skater (1). 


37. A ball of paper in the hand loosens the tight grip (1). 

38. Place a weight on the paper and allow the left hand to 
hang at your side to relieve rigidity (1). 

39. Correct one error at a time (1). 

40. Try inter-class contests (2). 

41. Have a procession to the office to show good work. Reward 
the one receiving the largest number of approval stamps. Banner 
to a class each Monday morning for having the largest number 
of approval signatures. Term prize for same to a pupil (2). 

42. Pen Clubs to work for Palmer Buttons (3). 

43. Articles on handwriting in magazines, etc., to keep up the 
interest of teachers (1). 

44. At least one lesson a month is observed and criticized by 
the Assistant to the Principal in each room (1). 

45. The teacher of penmanship isalso teacherof composition (1). 

46. One-minute test every two weeks, sent to the Assistant 
to Principal for appraisal (1). 

47. Preliminary writing drill in all written work (1). 

48. Weekly conference directed by expert scorers (2). 

49. Correspondence course taken by several teachers (1). 
60. Speed test in spelling (2), 

51. Display the new work for the week on a chart (1). 

52. All classes on a floor to be taught at the same period so 
that the principal may pass easily from room to room. 

53. An "A" penmanship section (1). 

54. Insignia on penholder to indicate correct movement (1). 

55. Insist on clean ink (1), 

56. Insist on good pens (1). 

57. Insist on good quality of paper (1). 

58. Have term tests (1). 

59. Frequent inspection and appraisal of all penmanship 
products (10). 



7, The second survey. This, like the first, was 
conducted by Mr. Eugene A. Nifenecker, Director 
of our Reference Bureau. The eight schools that 
had reached a standard score in all grades in the 
first survey were excused from the second. As the 
whole procedure was on a voluntary and cooperative 
basis, four schools that had two or more grades 
below standard were, at their request, also excused 
from the second test. There were therefore only 
thirteen schools that submitted to the second 
measurement. Table II shows the number of 
classes and children concerned, by grades, 

Number of Pupils and Classes by Grades Involved in Penmanship Survey 

f Grades 











No. of Classes 











No. of Pupils 











In Table III are presented the comparative re- 
sult^ of grade and school in the two surveys, show- 
ing grade levels attained in Form,. Table IV shows 
similar facts for speed. 

A more valid comparison may be made by taking 
into consideration the fact that -most of the pupils 
who took the 1922 survey were in 1923 two grades 
higher than in 1922, 

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by Pupils of Each Grad 



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By comparing the pupils in one grade in 1922 
with the group two grades higher in 1923, we are 
comparing the achievements of practically the same 
pupils. It is to be kept in mind, however, that while 
the groups are approximately the same, they are not 
wholly so. Numerous changes in pupil population 
tend to disturb the composition of the groups. 
Again, it is to be noted that no comparison is pos- 
sible in the case of the present 4B and 5A pupils, 
inasmuch as they were a year ago in 3B and 4A 
classes, which were not included in the 1922 survey. 

Table V indicates for each school and pupil group 
the amount of gain or loss shown by the 1923 
achievements as compared with those of 1922, The 
table also gives the total net change of each school 
and the average per grade group involved. For 
instance, in P. S. 1, the first school mentioned, the 
group which was in 4B in 1922 and in 5B in 1923 
shows a median Improvement of 5.7 points; the 
5A-6A group shows practically no gain; the 5B-6B 
group gained 6.8 points; the 6A-7A advanced 14 
points; and so on. The total gain for the school 
for the groups compared Was 58.3 points, or an 
average of 8*3 points almost a full scale step. 

At the bottom of the table are shown the number 

of schools that have made gains, or losses, or no 

hange. The net gain for each grade group is also 

hown, as well as the average per school. For in- 




Gain or Loss in Attainments between 1922 and 1923 for 

Corresponding Pupil Groups 

























+ 5.7 

+ 0.8 
+ 7.3 

+ 6.8 

- 1.1 


+ 6.1 

+ 7.5 
+ 4.5 


+ 8.3 
+ 6.6 


- 5.7 

+ 1-6 

+ 2.0 

- 4.7 

+ 0.6 

+ 3.7 

+ 2.5 

+ 0.4 



+ 8.6 

+ 6.8 

- 3.3 

- 9.2 

- 0.6 

- 4.6 

+ 9.8 

+ 1.4 



+ 2.1 

+ 5.8 


+ 7.8 

+ 8.0 



+ 9.1 



+ 4.8 

+ 5.4 


+ 7.3 


+ 1.5 


- 1.7 



- 3.8 


+ 1-7 

+ 2.0 

- 3.6 

- 0.7 

- 0.6 

- 0.12 


+ 17.3 



+ 11.8 

+ 5.7 

+ 17.8 




+ 2.8 


+ 19.4 

+ 8.5 

+ 1.3 

+ 8.4 

+ 9.3 


+ 9.6 


+ 2.0 

- 9.2 

+ 5.4 

- 1.8 

- 0.6 


+ 3.5 

- 9.5 

+ 3.2 

+ 9.7 

+ 9.7 

+ 3.2 

+ 8.7 


+ 4.1 


- 0.2 

- 4.3 

- 4.6 

- 2.3 

No. show- 





ing gam 


















No change 














Total net 

gain or loss 









Av, Gain 

or Loss 

+ 3.7 

+ 4.6 

+ 8.0 

+ 7.3 

+ 4.6 

+ 5.6 

+ 8.2 

+ 6.3 











stance, in the 4B-5B group, ten out of twelve schools 
made a gain and two Sustained a, loss. The total 
gain was 68.6 points or an average per school of 5.7 
points. Out of all the grade groups involved in 
the comparisons (71 in number) 52, or 73%, show 
a gain, while 17, or 24%, show a loss. 

The standard increase is shown on the bottom 





1922 4B SA 5B dA 6B TA 7B 

5B 0A 0B TA 7B 6A 8B Total 

6ain compared 






line. For instance, the difference between the 4B 
grade median and the 5B grade median is 8 points. 
In four of the twelve schools Public Schools 2, 4, 
5, 6 the growth in the year was greater than the 
normal intergrade interval of 8 points. In the 
5A-6A group the intergrade interval is 7 points, 
which was exceeded by four schools. In the 7B-8B 
group the increment is 4 points, which was exceeded 
by six out of the eight schools. Greater improve- 
ment is shown by the higher grades than the lower. 
The improvement as a whole was considerable and 
in most of the groups was quite satisfactory. 

These gains are graphically shown in Figure 3. 

8. Summary of inferences based on the preceding 
study of the supervision of handwriting. 

(1) Supervision of instruction is concededly neces- 
sary in elementary grades and to some extent in the 
secondary school. It is also essential in other arts, 
such as those relating to the theater and the opera. 
In industry the foreman and superintendent are 
accepted as indispensable factors of successful and 
economical operation and production. 

(2) The production of good writing is no excep- 
tion. The expert supervisor is necessary to co8r- 
dinate the efforts of individual teachers and chil- 
dren; to economize effort by eliminating wrong 
movements and forms; and to make the results of 


practice cumulative by grading exercises within 
grades, and articulating grade with grade. 

(3) This study shows that in fif ty American cities 
of fifty thousand population or over, educational 
authorities have found it desirable to employ one or 
more technical supervisors of penmanship. 

(4) My own experiment has convinced me that 
writing in New York schools will never be wholly 
satisfactory until we employ at least one special 
teacher of handwriting in each supervisory unit in 
charge of a district superintendent. If I had such 
a teacher at my command, I would undertake to 
bring up to standard every school in my district 
within a few years. 

(5) Inspirational supervision alone is incapable 
of overcoming all the resistance in penmanship 
teaching, any more than hopes, and good wishes, 
and sound advice can put the first tomatoes on the 
market. Expert knowledge and skill are needed 
in certain situations* 

(6) In the absence of a technical supervisor our 
only resource is the principal But some principals 
cannot and others will nqt do what is required for 
success in handwriting. In such cases the special 
teacher must go to the individual classroom and 
show the teacher how to teach. Nobody questions 
this statement with reference to drawing or music 


or physical training. Penmanship requires as much 
supervisory skill as any of the other subjects named, 

(7) The St. Louis Survey studied the effect of 
the principal's attitude toward penmanship and 
concluded that it was negligible. But that city 
has a director of handwriting with a staff of assist- 
ants. In a city where there are no technical super- 
visors everything depends upon the principal's 
attitude and skill. 

(8) A graded course of study in penmanship, or 
its equivalent, is essential to success. Some cities 
send out periodically, in lieu of a syllabus, detailed 
instructions for the conduct of lessons in hand- 

(9) Late and authoritative researches indicate 
that abstract drill exercises preliminary to writing 
are wrong in principle and wasteful in practice. 
"It is as though a person in training to be a car- 
penter should spend his time in calisthenics ... A 
greater part of the practice in handwriting should 
be spent in actual writing/' 

(10) Every teacher of writing should be required 
to qualify as an expert in the kind of writing she is 
expected to teach. In some states such a qualifi- 
cation is a condition of employment. 

(11) In a number, of states handwriting is con- 
sidered of sufficient importance to require state* 
wide regulation and suggestion. Penmanship man- 


uals have been issued by New Jersey, Massachu- 
setts, Ohio, and doubtless by other states. 

(12) The measurement of handwriting has come 
to be widely recognized as essential to success. In 
my own district, however, the school that has the 
best writing never used a scale. When this school 
was measured by Mr. Nifenecker, nearly every 
grade had attained an 8B standard. 

(13) Many people assert that writing should end 
as a formal drill with the sixth year. If all chil- 
dren were efficiently taught, this might be safe. 
But under present conditions in New York, I do 
not advise it. Many of our sixth-grade children 
write an illegible scrawL To turn them out with 
this inadequate training would be unfair to them 
and to the public condemned to read their future 

(14) By combining all grades and schools, the 
median achievement of my district in handwriting 
was, in 1922, below standard inform in every grade 
but two, and was above standard in rate in every 
grade but three. 

(15) In the second survey, in 1923, form had im- 
proved, but rate had declined* The medians of the 
two surveys, however, axe not strictly comparably 
as the schools which had attained standard form in 
1922 were not included in the 1923 test. The ex- 
planation of the changed relations of form and 


speed is probably that the teachers, knowing that 
another survey was coming, unconsciously stressed 
form at the expense of speed. 

(16) In the second survey sixty-three per cent of 
the classes made a better score in form than they 
had in the first survey; seven per cent showed no 
change; thirty per cent were lower. 

(17) A more valid method of measuring progress 
is to compare grade groups one year apart. For 
instance, if we compare the attainment of a 4B 
grade in a given school in 1923 with the same grade 
in 1922, we are not dealing with the same children, 
because the pupils who were in 4B in 1922 were in 
5B a year later. A table was therefore constructed 
which compares grade groups one year apart. In 
this way we are dealing approximately with the 
same children in the two surveys. In six grade 
groups thus compared the average gain in twelve 
schools was greater than the standard intergrade 

(18) The Detroit experiment in supervision con- 
firms my own conclusion that "supervision pays/' 
and that "that supervision is most effective which 
gives special attention to those who need it most." 
As soon as a class or school reaches standard 
achievement it should be relieved of external super- 
vision (except an occasional survey to show whether 
it has fallen from grace!). The same principle 


should be applied to individual pupils within a 

(19) I have proved to my own satisfaction and 
cannot make it too emphatic that teachers un- 
trained in the technique of measurement, are in- 
capable of doing research work that has scientific 
validity. The sixty-nine scorers of our second sur- 
vey are teachers of more than average intelligence 
for some of them occupy supervisory positions yet 
it required twenty hours of intensive training in 
the simple process of using a penmanship scale to 
make them sufficiently accurate for our purpose. 

(20) When our Department of Education sup- 
plied the teachers with a handwriting scale, it took 
an important first step toward improvement in 
penmanship; but unless and until it provides train- 
ing for teachers in the use of the scale, no useful 
purpose wiU be served by that instrument. 



1. Q&ye, with reasons, your opinion on each of 
the fouling points concerning the teaching of 
penmanship to beginners: 

(a) Should the writing be large or small? Define 
large and small. 

(b) Should the beginning be made with sentences, 
words, letters of the alphabet, or the elements of 

(c) How is the principle of imitiation to be utilized 
in teaching penmanship? 

(d) Should a beginning be made with the pen, 
lead pencil, slate pencil, the blackboard crayon, or 
the sand table? 

(e) Should children in the beginning be drilled in 
the arm movement and compelled to use the sarqe 
in writing, or should they be allowed to use the 
finger movement until the forms of letters are 
thoroughly familiar? 

See Louise Ellison's "The Acquisition of Tech- 
nical Skill," in Pedagogical Seminary, Vol. 16, p. 
49 (March, 1909)- 

f * A few of these topics are taken from Freeman's The Psychology of ffw 
Common Branches, Chap. II. (Houghton Mifflin), and some from Mon- 
roe, De Voss and Kelly's Educational Tests and Measurement*, (Hough- 
ion Mifflin). 



2. What is meant by " organizing a movement" 
in a subject like penmanship? 

See Judd's Genetic Psychology for Teachers, pp. 

Penmanship in a certain school was assigned 15 minutes daily 
throughout the grades. The exercises were performed in a half- 
hearted, ineffective manner. .... The pupils were then told 
that as soon as any one could write a plain, legible hand with 
(air rapidity, he would be excused from further penmanship 
exercises. ... A similar plan was adopted in spelling, . . . 
Whenever the individual instead of the class was made the basis 
for promotion, the results were excellent. 

What is the principle here involved, and how far 
is it applicable? 

3. ' i Children used to write with their sides toward 
the desk, the right arm wholly and the left partly 
supported by it." 

Criticize this position, and describe the correct 
position, giving reasons. 

4- Give three illustrations of motor habits which 
are formed in school. 

5* Compare the complexity oi the writing move- 
ment with the walking movement. Why does the 
child take longer to learn to write than to walk? 

6- What is the relation of the slant of writing to 
legibility? To speed? What is the natural slant? 

7. What hygienic reasons were given in support 
of vertical writing? How have these demands been 
met in a different way? 


8. Does "selection" of appropriate movements 
mean conscious, deliberate selection? If not, what 
is the method? 

9. Discuss the saying, "Practice makes perfect." 

10. Discuss the statement, "If the child is trained 
in the correct movement, the form of the letters will 
take care of itself." 

11. Explain several methods of stimulating the 
child to study the form of writing. 

12. Compare the old methods of grading (or 
measuring) the child's work with the standardized 
scale method. 

13. Why should the correct habit be practiced 
in all writing? Put this rule in the form of a gen- 
eral principle and illustrate from two other subjects 
of study, 

14. Compare the movements made by a child of 
three years and a child of ten and inquire whether 
the fundamental-accessory theory explains the 

15. Considering the motor development of the 
child and the need of making writing automatic, 
when do you think the formal writing drill should 
be emphasized most? 

16. Discuss the aim of bringing all the children 
of a grade up to grade standard and then excusing 
from formal drills all who are above this standard. 

17. A teacher may judge the handwriting of her 


class by watching the pupils while they write or by 
examining the specimens which they have written. 

(a) Which is the better method if the object is to 
compare class with class? 

'(b) Which is better for discovering the hand- 
writing defects of individuals? 

(c) What factors would you keep in mind in 
watching while they write? 

(d) What factors in the other method? 

18. In what situations would you use the Ayree 
Scale? The Thorndike? The Johnson-Stone? The 
Freeman? The New York? Gray's Score Card? 

19. What factor of handwriting is of most im- 
portance according to Gray's Score Card? What 
factor is of least importance? Why are these fac- 
tors so rated? Do you approve these ratings? 

20. For what purpose would you use dictation 

21* Discuss: (a) Pronation; (b) Hand support; 
(c) Angle of arm with base line; (d) Relation of 
finger and thumb; (e) Grasp of penholder. 

22. In what grades (if any) and for what purpose 
and for what length of time would you recommend 
whole^arm movement? 

23. Define rhythm in handwriting and show its 
purpose; also its relation to age, quality, and speed. 

24. State three laws of habit formation and illus- 


trate their application to the teaching of pen- 

25. Briefly discuss graphology and show its rela- 
tion to the experimental study of handwriting. 

26. Write ten propositions or general principles 
derived from the physiology and psychology of 

27. Explain a method of teaching an illiterate 
adult how to write his name in three lessons. 

28. Discuss the advantages of the departmental 
system of teaching handwriting. 

29. Why do we teach handwriting? Name and 
discuss three or four "objectives" of penmanship. 

30. Discuss the supervision of handwriting under 
the following heads: 

(a) The specialist or penmanship supervisor. 
Explain what he should do, and under whose au- 
thority he should work. 

(b) The principal. 

(c) The superintendent. 

31. Describe three writing scales and tell under 
what circumstances each is most useful. 

32. Discuss in some detail the motivation of pen- 
manship, naming the best incentive and six useful 



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3. ATOES, LEONARD P., "Scale for Measuring the Quality of 

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4. BARNES, EARL, Stitdies in Education, Vol. 2, p. 389. 

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54. ftetw Scimtifiqiw, Vol. 27. "The Mechanism of Writing," 

55. RBXFOKD, JOHN, What Handwriting Indicates; An Analytical 

Graphology) Putnam's, 1904. 

56. SAWYIEH, Tom, Manual of Fundam&ntds in the Teaching of 

Handwriting, P. J. Hoer Printing Co., Columbus, O., 1918. 
87* SCEIFTOBB, E. W., "Penmanship Stuttering," Journal of 

American Medical Association, Vol. 52, pp. 1480-1481, 

May, 1909, 
58* SHAW, LENA A,, "An Experiment in the Supervision of 

Handwriting," Detroit Journal of Education, 2:57~$9. 
59. SHOEOT, J. B., "Obstacles to Good Handwriting," Elemm- 

tary School Journal, 24:301. 
00. STARCH, DANIBL, "Measurement of Handwriting," Journal 

of Educational Psychology , 4;445 (1913). 

61. STABCH, DANIEL, "The Measurement of Efficiency in Writ- 

ing/' Journal of Mwcdiond Pvychokgy, 6:106 (1915). 

62, STABCH, DANIEL, "Unconscious Imitation in Handwriting/' 

Psychological Revi&w, 18:223-228 (1911). 
63* STONB, C. E., a Motivation of the Formal Writing Leseon 

Through a Special Classification of Pupils for Writing/ 1 

School and Home Education. June, 1915. 
$4. TAYIX>B, JOSEPH S*, "Omitting Arithmetic in First Year/' 

BducaMond Administration and Supervision, Feb., 1916. 
CQWTSG on ToacMng to Write One's Nome in Three 


Lessons, Kipps Bay Neighborhood Association, Nev 
York, 1920. 

66. THOMPSON, MARY E., Psychology and Pedagogy of Writing 

Warwick & York, 1917. 

67. THORNDIKE, EDWAKD L., "Handwriting," Teachers CoUegt 

Record, Vol. 2 (1910). 

68. THORNDIKE, EDWARD L., "Means of Measuring School 

Achievement in Handwriting," Educational Administra- 
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69. THORNDIKB, EDWARD L., "Teachers' Estimates of the 

Quality of Handwriting," Teachers College Record, 15: 
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70. WALKER, H. C., "The Development of the Unit Plan of 

Penmanship Practice," Journal of Educational Research, 
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71. WEST, PAUL V., "The Relation of Rhythm to the Hand- 

writing Movement," Journal of Educational Psychology, 

72. WHIPPLE, Gtnr M., How to Study Effectively, Public School 

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73. WILSON, G. M., "The Handwriting of School Children," 

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74. WKCHAM, E. C., "AH the Elements of Handwriting Meas- 

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AYEBS SCALB, 132, 136, 138, 140. 
ABILITIES, writing, analysis of, 

ACCURACY, 49, 58. 




ANALOGY, method of, 54. 

ABM MOVEMENT, 26, 32, 36, 40, 

60, 76; angle with base line, 


Avmxnm OF COMPLACENCY, 113, 

135, 138, 140, 181* 

BABNBS, EARL, 94, 181. 
BASB LINE, 28, 63, 68. 
BOYS, teaching more difficult, 


138, 181. 
BROW, HBYWOOD, excerpt by, 


BBTAN, (ItMm B.), 49, 181. 
BTOTYAN, JOBCN, quotation from 

The Heavenly Footman* 154. 



145, 156, 162, 171. 
BtnaK, FBBDEBIC, 72, 181. 

dress at, 29. 

CHARTERS, (W. W,), 51, 181. 

CHILDREN'S WRITING, 24, 63, 72, 
74, 75. 

CLEWS, HENRY, excerpt by, 90. 





COPY BOOKS, 33, 47, 64, 127. 

COPY WRITING, 33, 46, 47, 64, 71, 

CORNMAN, OLIVER P., 59, 104, 


CURRICULUM, value of, 88. 


of, 37. 

DETKOIT, experiments by, 108, 


188 INDEX 

DEVELOPMENT or HANDWRITING, FORM, 31, 33, 42, 47, 63, 76, 148, 

60. 150, 163. 

DIFFUSION OF EFFORT, 49, 61. FREEMAN, FRANK N., 26, 28, 30, 

DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT, 99. 31, 34, 36, 61, 62, 69, 72, 77, 

DONER, C. E., 126. 127, 130, 136, 140, 142, 182. 

DOWNEY, Miss JUNK E., 56, 65, FREEMAN SCALE, 136, 137, 140, 

181. 142. 

DRILLS, 62, 65, 75, 76, 77, 124, FUNDAMENTAL TO ACCESSORY, 72. 




"WRITING, 87. *^* 

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 19, 58, 66. GmLS BHrTBB SPEL &ERB* 59; nioi* 

ELIMINATING USELESS MOTIONS, accur ate, 58, 66, 79. 

49 GRADE STANDARDS, table of, 137, 

ELLSWOETH, 19, 182. 142 143 15 > 154, 156. 


EXCESSIVE MOVEMENT, objec- GRAND RAPID *> comparison with 

tions to, 126. *" kouis, 30. 

EXCESSIVE RULING, objections GRAPHIC CONTROL, range of, 55. 

to, 69. GRAPHOLOGY, 53, 54, 55, 56, 65. 

EXEMPTION FROM LESSON, 78. GRAY ' S ScoEB CAM> > w 137 > 139 > 
EXPERTS, teachers to qualify as, 

46, 64, 71, 107, 144, 170. GROTIN, JOSEPH T., 52. 




ING HABIT, 21; psychological HABIT FORMATION, 41, 49, 50, 53, 
as compared with physiologi- 65, 114. 
^ 41 - HAND, movement of, 21, 34, 60; 


EDUCATION, 182. HANDWRITING, as habit, 49; 

FINQBB MOVEMENT, 21-24, 28, control of, 54; development 

32, 34, 40, 60, 74, 77. o f, 60; disciplinary value of, 

FOREARM MOVEMENT, 21, 23, 31, 93; a form of dramatic ex- 

881 ^ pression, 53; individuality in, 



53, 60; manual art, 41, 64, 
107, 120; measurement of, 
171; methods for improve- 
ment of, 159; physiology of, 
19; psychology of, 41; scales 
for, 59, 79, 110, 116, 121, 132, 
134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 140, 
141; specimen of, 44; super* 
vision of, 09; utilitarian 
value of, 92. 



HBALBSY, HORACE G., 138, 183. 

Heavenly Footman, The* 154. 

HOUSTON, HARRY, 32, 62, 76, 



JAVAL, DR., deductions by, 20, 

138, 183. 

JOHNSON, W. SMYTHE, 80, 183, 

JITOD, DR. CHAS. H., investiga- 
tions by, 21, 22, 183. 


HARRY, 183. 

ILLTTKEATES, method for teach* 

ing, 83. 

IMITATION, 42, 44. 

outline of program for, 156- 



of ,48. 




ImmOTB, 60. 
IKK, when to us^ 76. 
IwatriRY, graphological, 55. 

LAW OF EFFORT, 52, 65. 
LETTERS, learning to write, 43; 

width of, 46. 

LESSON, giving of, 123. 
LETWIS, E. E., 183. 


MANtJAia: New Jersey, 127; 
Massachusetts, 129; Ohio, 129. 

MANUEL, H. T., 184. 


MASSEIX, ALEXANDER 8., 83, 184. 

McALJLtsTER, CLOTD N., sum- 
mary by, 39, 63, 75, 184. 

MILLS, E, C., 32, 62, 76, 125. 




MONROE, WAI/EER S., 141, 184. 

MOTIVATION, 121, 169, 170. 






MOVEMENT, 21, 26, 28, 29, 30, 
31, 32, 34, 36, 40, 60, 61, 76; 
arm, 60, 74; coordinated, 23, 
24, 59, 60, 61, 77; diffusion of, 
24, 26, 49, 61; finger, 21-24, 
28, 32, 34, 40, 60, 74, 77; fore- 
arm, 21, 23, 31, 33, 60; full- 
arm, 40; involuntary, 41; 
muscular, 29, 40; organizing 
a, 49; sensory control in, 48; 
simplified, 49; in primary 
grades, 29; whole-arm, 29, 31, 
60, 62, 75; wrist, 40, 77. 

MUSCLES, conscious control of, 




of, 37. 




NEW YORK, 38, 98, 106, 107, 115, 

116, 117, 124, 143, 169; form 

stressed by, 30, 31. 

136, 137, 140, 141, 152, 154, 



by, 111, 145, 156, 163, 171. 
NORMAL CLASSES, 107, 122. 
NUTT, H. W., investigations by, 

31, 34, 62, 143, 184. 

OHIO MANUAL, 129, 171, 185. 

PALMER, A. N., 29, 62, 76, 107, 

116, 185. 
PALMER SYSTEM, 103, 106, 107, 


PENMANSHIP, 52, 89, 92, 93, 96, 


66, 67. 

163, 164, 166; conclusions 

based on, 168-173. 

21, 23. 

PINTNER, DR. E., 140, 185. 

FROM, 80. 

PRINCIPAL, supervision by, 86, 

99, 131; attitude of, 115. 
PROMOTION, advantages of, 82. 
PRONATION, 22, 27, 60. 



PUPILS, when exempted, 77. 


QUALITY, measuring of, 32, 
QUESTIONNAIRES, 38, 102, 121; 
cities replying to, 103 ; deduc- 
tions from, 108; summary of 
replies to, 105, 121. 


RECTOR, Lizzm E. (Miss), 29, 


Revue Sdentifigue, 185. 
RHYTHM, 33, 34, 35, 37, 63, 78; 

instrument for measuring, 34. 

SCALES: Ayres, 132, 135, 138 
140; Breed and Downs, 136, 
138; Freeman, 136, 140, 142; 
Johnson and Stone, 135, 138; 
New York Penmanship, 136, 
137,140,141,152,154; Thorn- 
dike, 132, 140. 

SCALES, comparison of, 141; use 
of, 59, 79, 110, 116, 121, 132, 
134, 138, 

Scraprmm, BE, E. W., 55, 185. 

SENSIBILITY, muscular and tac- 
tile, 48, 64. 


SHAW, LENA A., 108, 185. 

SHOUSE, J. B,, 113, 185. 

SIZE IN WRITING, 57, 63; exag- 
geration of, 75; significance 
of, 56, 74. 

SLANT, lack of uniformity in, 
38, 39; natural, 38. 


SPEED, 28, 30, 32, 57, 78. 


STONE, C. R,, 51, 185. 

ST. Louis, 76, 77, 82, 88, 98, 
115; form stressed by, 31; 
comparison with Grand Rap- 
ids, 30. 

ST. Loins SURVEY, 30, 115, 170. 



99, 112; experiments in, 145- 

SUPERVISORS, 99; cities having, 

SYLLABUS, 75, 116, 117, 124. 

SYSTEMS: Locker, 104; Palmer, 
103, 106, 107, 116; Zajxer, *<&, 

TABLES, comparison of scales, 
141; grade standards, 137; 
median scores, 142; penman- 
ship surveys, 146, 162, 163, 
164, 166. 

Tacoma, 87. 




TAYLOR, DEEMS, review on Par- 

sifal, 100. 

TAYLOR, JOSEPH S., 72, 185. 
TEACHERS' MARKS, unreliability 

of, 133. 

TESTS, 77, 79, 86, 145, 146, 153. 

47, 64, 78, 186. 
THORNOTKE, E. L., 78, 81, 97, 

132, 134, 138, 140. 

96, 98. 



47; problem on, 43, 64. 

VERTICAL WRITERS, 22, 37, 40. 


WALKER, H. C., 82, 186. 
WEST, PAUL V., 35, 186. 
WHIPPLB, GUY M., 80, 186. 

60, 62, 75. 

WILSON, G. M., 186. 

WITHAM, E. C., 186. 

WRITING, an index, 50; auto- 
matic, 43, 49, 57; affected 
by external factors, 67, 69; 
completed habit of, 21 ; copy, 
33, 46, 47, 64, 71 ; difficulties, 
20; factors in, 97; finger, 25, 
33; incoordinated* 59; indi- 
viduality in, 60; judged on 
general impression, 55; lesson 
in, 70; mature, 35; move- 
ment, 39; pathological, 55; 
physiological aspect of, 49; 
psychology of, 41; practice 
of, 19; sex differences in, 59, 
66, 79; stages of, 19, 60; time 
element in, 80, 96, 98; unsuc- 
cessful attempts at, 49; varia- 
bility in, 54. 



WOODWORTH, R. S., 48, 64, 186. 

WRONG FORM, 51, 71. 


WRITERS, three groups of, 82. 

ZANBR SYSTEM, 103, 116.